Mentors and Meals Creates Bonds, Educational Growth

Dream Big…


Mentor Emma Mitmesser works with Ambros at the Rowland Arts Center.

Emma Mitmesser, Illustrator

Dream Big. This is the foundation of Mentors and Meals.

As the school day ends, Baker Intermediate students are transported downtown to the RAC above the Cairn
Coffee House, excited and ready to begin their favorite part of the day.

So much more than an average tutoring session, this program is a fully-packed three hours, consisting of winding down from the school day with fun filled games, working and receiving aid on homework and projects, eating a hot meal, interacting in team-building opportunities, listening to guest speakers, and spending quality time with their high school mentors.

Not only do mentors work to help a student bump up a letter grade on their assignments, but there is more.

“The goal is to set them up for future success in life,” said Joseph Miller, director and coordinator.
Volunteer mentors must set an example for being hardworking students, compassionate friends, and humble individuals.

The students in this program find no greater joy than interacting with each other and their mentors, while engaging in activities never before offered to them.

The students weren’t shy to say that the mentors are their favorite part of the experience. “They’re really nice, and they are really awesome. They can be a little weird, but it’s fun in the end,” said one of the fifth graders.

These students aren’t the only ones who gain from this program. The mentors have an essential role, allowing the younger students to build a relationship of trust and acceptance that they may never have had before.

The students share stories of their hardship in school and at home, allowing the mentors to provide advice, comfort, and support.

The students are given a safe place to pour out their inner thoughts and feelings, while the mentors gain an understanding of others.

“Either you grow, the other person does, or more than likely, both of you do,” said Miller. Mentors and Meals isn’t finished yet.

“If things go as planned, this program will become a staple in the community,” said Miller. “The plan is to expand M&M, including students not just from Baker, but Robert D. Campbell Junior High as well.”

Another future goal is allowing the kids to come more often. As of this year, Mentors and Meals is limited to Tuesday through Thursday afternoons. Miller hopes that in the program’s near future, students will be able to come on Mondays as well.

The more time spent in the program, the more the students are able to grow and evolve.

Mentors and Meals embodies the hope of our generation’s youth and the desire to prepare them for leading and changing our world. The dreams this program stirs in its students and mentors alike will never cease reaching new heights.

“We want to prepare students,” said Miller, “to succeed now and for the rest of their lives.”