Coach-A-Kid Enid, United Way of Enid & Northwest OklahomaWhen Titan Rork moved to Oklahoma, the elementary student was having a hard time adjusting to his new routine and did not have a male role model in his life. Now 11, Titan was matched to Jon Blankenship three years ago through the United Way of Enid’s Coach-a-Kid Program, placing his life on a positive trajectory.
Blankenship, who has served since 1995 as president and CEO of the Enid Chamber, is a busy community leader serving on numerous local boards and economic development initiatives. But among his most cherished volunteer activities is making time to meet weekly at school with Titan. The pair enjoy talking, playing games and working on reading and math.
Titan described his mentor as, “fun, funny and nice” and was grateful that Blankenship helped him with math and reading. Thanks to his mentor, Titan says he now likes to read for fun and not just for school. He is currently reading “Captain Underpants.”
“I see a vast improvement in his math since the start of the school year,” said Titan’s teacher, Alexxis Wright. “Mentoring really works because Titan is coming out of his shell and is more confident when he reads aloud in class. He is interacting more with the other children and is more open to social interaction.”
Titan’s grandmother, Janice Rork, with whom he lives, said Blankenship has had a “tremendous” impact on Titan, describing him as a lifesaver for their family. “The one-on-one mentoring has changed Titan’s attitude, behavior and academic achievement,” she said. “He has gone from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s.”
Coach-a-Kid Coordinator John Gray described Blankenship as “consistent, dedicated, passionate and a great mentor and leader.” He said Blankenship is committed to consistently being at Titan’s mentoring sessions and doesn’t want to disappoint him.
“There’s a special bond between them,” Gray observed. “Mr. Blankenship can see the potential of a child… see the life or career that a child can have if just one person outside their situation says, ‘You can do this, I’m proud of you’ or asks, ‘How are you feeling today? And ‘Do you want to talk about it?’… I’m glad John Blankenship is a mentor in our program and is changing lives for the better.”
About the Program: Coach-A-Kid Enid Mentoring Program is a partnership between the United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma, Enid Public Schools and the Enid Metro Commission. Its mission is to improve academic achievement with a focus on reading and math, to build self-esteem, establish positive relationships, and to help children overcome negative behaviors. Mentors meet 30 minutes each week with their student at school during the school year.