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OFE News Release

OFE President Loyd BensonGUEST COLUMN:
Share What You Know. Become A Mentor

By Loyd Benson
Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence

In Ponca City, a 12-year-old girl has recently been placed on the waiting list for a mentor. She lives with her elderly grandmother and older brothers and desperately longs for a young female mentor who will be a good listener, play games with her or help her with math homework. In Muskogee, a 5-year-old boy from a single-parent home waits for a mentor who will meet him once a week at school for reading time or recess. He is one of four siblings, “stuck in the middle,” his counselor says, and craves the attention of a positive adult male. Here in southwest Oklahoma, an angry and abused 16-year-old boy who has spent most of his short life in foster homes is now in state custody, living in a juvenile center in Manitou. His life’s story has convinced him that he is “not worthy,” his case worker says. A mentor can help convince him otherwise.

These are just a few of the thousands of children in our state who would benefit from loving and consistent attention of a volunteer mentor. During National Mentoring Month in January, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is joining with mentoring organizations and schools across the state to encourage citizens to mentor a child in their community.

All children need the consistency and encouragement of caring adults in their lives to help them be the best they can be. Research has proven that children who are mentored feel more self-confident, have healthier relationships and are more likely to say no to drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, mentoring improves student’s attendance and attitudes about school.

Recognizing the tremendous role that mentoring can play in a student’s life and academic progress, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence launched the David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative in 2005 to encourage the growth and development of school-based mentoring programs. The initiative grew out of our chairman David Boren’s own passion for mentoring and the proven impact it can have on a child’s academic success. The centerpiece of this initiative is a Web site at with a statewide directory of volunteer opportunities and resources for those interested establishing mentoring programs in their communities.

Our foundation is also working through its statewide network of 200 public school foundations to recruit volunteers and promote mentoring as a positive step toward academic excellence. As part of its efforts to promote mentoring month, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is distributing public service announcements to state newspapers, radio stations and television stations.

The theme of National Mentoring Month is “Share What You Know: Become a Mentor.” This simple act of kindness doesn’t require any special qualifications – just a caring heart, a listening ear and an hour a week to spend time with a child in need. To learn more about mentoring opportunities in your area, log on to or call (405) 410-1523.

This New Year, resolve to make a difference and share what you know by becoming a mentor in your community.

Former Speaker of the House Loyd Benson is a Frederick native and current president of Pioneer Telephone Cooperative. He serves as president of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide non-profit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools.