Metro Denver Partners matches child, mentor with adventure
By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post
POSTED: 11/18/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Playing Twister on the floor with 10-year-old Ariadna keeps Emily Medina young.
Every week, she and and the girl do something fun together, whether it's a visit to the Denver Art Museum, Elitch Gardens or baking cookies at Medina's home in Parker.
"We mesh well," Medina said of her relationship with Ariadna. "She's patient. If I am driving and I miss a turn, for her, it's just a new adventure."
Medina is a mentor and board member at Metro Denver Partners, an organization that is seeking funding from The Denver Post Season to Share program.
What the organization needs most are mentors to match with at-risk children in Denver, Adams and Douglas County who are referred by their schools or social services.
There are about 55 children waiting for matches, said Mary Ann Burdick, executive director of Metro Denver Partners. There is a need for female volunteers to take on 12- to 14-year-old girls.
But men are especially needed to work as mentors because they have many boys in the program who don't have male role models.
Most of the children are struggling with problems at home or at school and are referred to the program through social services or their school districts. Ninety percent of the kids come from low-income homes.
Mentors are asked to attend an orientation and commit at least three hours a week to a child for a year.
Burdick says she tries to match the interests children have to the hobbies and habits of the mentors.
Ariadna recently persuaded Medina to take a ride on a roller coaster during a visit to Elitch Gardens.
"I think we do a lot of normal stuff I would do anyway," Medina said.
Medina says she got involved after she came upon a Denver Metro Partners booth during a downtown fair while having a discussion with her sister about having a child in her life.
"She said, 'Well, why don't you do something about it?' " Medina recalled. "I could not imagine not seeing the world out of somebody's young eyes."
The real estate broker does not have biological children of her own but does have connections to the children she has mentored, including one who is now in her 30s.
Ariadna doesn't worry about the details or why Medina wants to hang out with her.
"It's awesome," she said. "It feels like she really wants to be with me."
Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 firstname.lastname@example.org
Metro Denver Partners
Address:701 S.Logan St., Suite 109, Denver, CO 80209
In operation since:1968, and so far has served 15,500 children.
Percentage of funds directly to clients/service:90 cents of every dollar goes directly to their programs.