Submitted by Denair Unified School District
Two informational meetings are scheduled this week and next for community volunteers willing to serve as mentors for students in the Denair Unified School District.
They will be a chance for those interested to learn more about the soon-to-begin mentoring program from by Sierra Vista Child & Family Services officials. Sierra Vista a nonprofit based in Modesto that operates a similar system with the 30,000-student Modesto City Schools District.
The meetings will be held at the DUSD administration office. They are scheduled for:
- Thursday, Jan. 10 at noon
- Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Superintendent Terry Metzger said her goal is to identify community volunteers willing to meet one-on-one for an hour each week with a student.
“We’re very excited,” she said. “We feel like we have a number of students who can benefit from another caring adult in their lives.”
She already has reached out to local service clubs and said the response has been positive. All mentors will undergo a background check and screening conducted by Sierra Vista, which also will provide training.
The weekly meetings will be held during school hours on the child’s campus. Students from all grade levels and mentors will be matched based on teacher referrals and Sierra Vista’s expertise.
“It could be a conversation in the library or shooting hoops outside,” Metzger explained. “Most often, these students just need someone to be there to listen. They need an adult. Sometimes they’re being raised by their grandparents or caring for their younger siblings. They need someone who can be there for them.”
The partnership is an extension of a larger mental health pilot program that began last fall, also in collaboration with Sierra Vista. A full-time mental health clinician is stationed at Denair Middle School to work with students and their families from all DUSD campuses.
The program is funded by the Legacy Health Endowment, whose mission is to provide financial and technical support to improve the health of people living in Stanislaus and Merced counties. The nonprofit was created in 2014 as part of Tenet Healthcare’s acquisition of Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock.
One of Legacy Health’s grants funds a program directed by Sierra Vista that focuses on the mental health of people living in southeastern Stanislaus County. Research by Sierra Vista shows that some children and teens in the area can be adversely affected by their socioeconomic status or rural living conditions.
“That can lead to greater risk of anxiety, depression, and self-harm, including drug or alcohol use,” Metzger said.