LUK, Inc. Blog
January is National Mentoring Month
by Hilary Amedy, Mentoring Program Coordinator
January is National Mentoring Month and is the largest-scale mentoring campaign nationwide. National Mentoring Month offers us a chance to celebrate the mentoring relationships essential to creating sustainable futures for our youth.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use. In turn, these young people are:
- 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
- 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities
- 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
- More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team
Yet, the same research shows that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor. Today, in our community there are 190 kids who could benefit from having a mentor.
National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest. This year, with the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in real life. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through those real life decisions.
National Mentoring Month is led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from the Highland Street Foundation. Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress.
Mentors spend at least one hour a week with their mentee and do a variety of activities together from educational to recreational. We have a need for community mentors and site based mentors. Community based mentors pick up their mentee at the mentee’s home and choose what they are going to do out in the community. Site based mentors meet at the Sizer Charter School twice a week as a “lunch buddy” and Plumley Village mentors meet on Thursdays from 3:00 – 4:00 in Worcester.
LUK Mentors are the backbone of this program and are so generous with their time and energy. We want to thank all the LUK Mentors who have shared their life experiences, knowledge and wisdom with our mentees. You are the best!!
October is Prevention Month!
By Brandy Litt, Director of Community Engagement and Support (CES)
There is an interesting analogy that prevention people often use to describe their efforts. In a town there is a river, and there are suddenly many people falling into the river and almost drowning. The townspeople band together to start rescuing people who have fallen in, but every day there are more and more people that need to be rescued. Suddenly, someone realizes that the reason people are falling in is the bridge upstream – if we put in a fence along the sides, fewer people will fall in! Prevention efforts try and keep people from falling into the river, while treatment efforts are the townspeople working to save those who have already fallen in. With both working together, the town is healthier and safer.
There are different levels of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary prevention works to promote healthy behaviors before there is a problem. This includes education and environmental approaches, where we try to put rules and laws in place that offer protections for everyone. Secondary interventions are used when someone is starting to get sick, or has a higher chance of developing unhealthy behaviors. This could be due to risk factors, such as a family history of a condition, or environmental risk factors like a neighborhood exposed to pollutants (perhaps from a factory). Tertiary prevention works to help people who are already sick or experiencing unhealthy behaviors. An example of tertiary prevention is implementing harm-reduction techniques (such as Narcan trainings) so that someone who has an opioid addiction is less likely to die due to an overdose.
The great thing about prevention is that many of the protective factors works for a wide range of behaviors. A protective factor can be biological, psychological, familial, or at a community level and lowers the likelihood of a negative outcome or behavior. Risk factors can be at any of those same levels and increase the likelihood of a negative outcome or behavior. Therefore, increasing a child’s coping skills ensures he or she is less likely to engage in risky social behaviors, have problems in school, or suffer from mental health problems.
As Pride month closes, retired LUK employee José Rivera reflects on the history and what Pride means to him.
In June of 2000, Bill Clinton declared June, “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” The month was chosen to remember a riot in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan that, to many of us, is the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States.
The movement, now celebrated around the word, has three main premises: that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that sexual diversity is a gift, and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered. It is a celebration of self-affirmation, dignity, equality, visibility, community, and the beauty and power of diversity – life aspects that are easily taken for granted by many for whom these have been gifted without questions, challenges or struggles. Yet, 48 years after the Stonewall riots, the very being of many LGBTQ individuals is still being questioned and challenged; many still struggle to be.
For 35+ years, I had the privilege and joy of working at LUK – where I found countless allies which made my journey immeasurably easier than what many of my brothers and sisters experience. If I may, I would like to share with you some of these gifts so that, as Gay Pride Month comes to an end, those of you who are so moved can begin (or continue) a lifetime of making this world a better place to be for our LGBT brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, spouses, friends, coworkers, friends, neighbors… (you get the picture: we are always beside you).
- Having a meaningful dialogue with my supervisor (thanks Dave) about what it meant to be out to my clients.
- Wearing and seeing pride items, like a rainbow flag, a pin (the wife of our then-Mayor wore one that said “STRAIGHT BUT NOT NARROW”), a “Safe Zone” sticker, etc. They all go a long way in signaling the presence of allies and telling us that we are not invisible, that we are not alone, that we are safe, that we are valued. (Please remember that wherever we are and whomever we are with, there are probably LGBT individuals whose life could be greatly enhanced by an ally.)
- Hearing someone speaking up to challenge inappropriate jokes or comments, even if they “knew” the offending party meant no harm.
- When coming out to my peers, they did not respond with “I always knew” or “I thought so” (unwittingly, these phrases tend to devalue the effort and courage it takes to come out). Instead, allies responded with appreciation that I considered them a safe and welcoming individual to come out to. (For some, especially youth, it might be helpful to ask whom else they are or want to be out to, as an ally can be extremely helpful in making this a safe and positive experience.)
- Having people wanting to hear more about me and my life. The only “expert” on my life is me and having folks be humble enough to recognize this is a precious gift.
This year’s theme is “Viva la Vida” (a celebration of life), not “Viva el Mes” (a month’s celebration). So (again, if you are so moved), please help us celebrate who we are, not just in June 2017 but always.
Prevention Events Coming in August
by Cindy Dalton, Public Relations Specialist
Every summer, the LUK Prevention Team puts on two great events for the community: National Night Out and the Common Ground Basketball Tournament and Community Event.
This year, National Night Out will be held at Monument Park in Gardner on Tuesday, August 1st. The Gardner Community Action Team (GCAT) organizes this annual event, with community-building and the promotion of good relationships between community members and law enforcement at the forefront. The evening will include live music, kids' games, information tables, face painting, and a competition among local pizza restaurants for the title of "favorite pizza." The flashlight walk is a fun activity for children and their parents. This educational walk is sponsored by MOC and Healthy Families, and uses a story to tell children about how police and firefighters help the community.
On Saturday, August 12th, the 19th Annual Common Ground Basketball Tournament and Community event will be held at Green Street Park in Fitchburg. In addition to the tournament, the event will include a cookout, kids' activities, and information tables. This event has its roots in violence prevention and uses sports as a means toward supporting youth in the community and having conversations about healthy choices.
We hope you’ll join us for these great events!
For general prevention information, please visit www.LUK.org/Prevention or follow the LUK Prevention Facebook page.
Day in the Park & 5K - June 25, 2017!
by Cindy Dalton, Public Relations Specialist
It’s time again for LUK’s Day in the Park and “Corduroy King” 5K!
The Day in the Park is a fun, free family event at Lake Quinsigamond Park in Worcester which features music, a bounce house, information tables, activities, and a cookout for lunch! This is a great day for families to enjoy the outdoors and learn a bit about the services available in their communities. As usual, we will have information around mental health awareness and foster care appreciation.
The “Corduroy King” 5K is a flat course accessible to runners and walkers of all abilities. All funds raised benefit the David “Corduroy King” Kilcoyne scholarship, which allows at-risk youth to attend a therapeutic, adventure-based camp through LUK’s TREK program.
Dave Kilcoyne was one of the original TREK staff, starting in 2006. Dave was an original – he was the king of corduroy and a lover of adventure. Dave loved kids, and kids loved him back. A few years ago Dave solo hiked for a summer along the Appalachian Trail, and talked about writing a book about his experiences in the woods. In the summer of 2013 Dave pledged to hike 600 miles in 60 days to raise funds for the TREK program – just him and his new tent in the outdoors.
Unfortunately, Dave’s adventure ended early when he left the trail to come home and care for his ailing Dad. Shortly after his Dad passed, Dave also took a different trail and left us as well. All who knew him miss his laugh, humor, giant smile, and even bigger heart. With the scholarships, we hope to honor his memory and help youth fall in love with adventure.
You can register online through Wednesday, June 21st at Give.Classy.org/LUK5K.
You can register the day of the event with cash or check.