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Press Release

Monday, January 26, 2009

Elizabeth Hirst, Volunteer USA
(850) 562-5300

Florida Leaders Celebrate National Mentoring Month
~ Education chief and advocates urge mentoring to make one child’s life brighter ~

TALLAHASSEE – The Volunteer USA Foundation and Florida education leaders today recognized the valuable role mentoring has on the state’s youth. In honor of January being National Mentoring Month, all residents are being urged to play an active role in making a positive difference in the lives of Florida’s children.

“The unique roles that mentors play in the lives of our children are critical to developing characteristics that will carry them through a lifetime of fulfillment,” said Commissioner of Education, Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Mentors sacrifice their time and energy to bring happiness to others, and I encourage all Floridians to not only honor their efforts, but consider becoming a mentor themselves.”

State leaders, educators and the nonprofit community are also celebrating Thank Your Mentor Day this month as a way for people to honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and who had a lasting impact on their lives. The national campaign promotes several ways to thank mentors:

  • Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  • "Pass it on" by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  • Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the campaign's Web site.
  • Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program.

Research has shown too many young people do not have a caring adult to provide them with encouragement and support. Earlier this month, Representative Marti Coley- a longtime teacher in North Florida - issued a proclamation calling on all Floridians to help build a strong future for our youth.

“Mentoring enriches and expands the lives of both the individual being mentored and the one doing the mentoring,” said Representative Coley. “Mentoring enables individuals who work together to grow and learn more than they ever could on their own.”

The Florida Mentoring Partnership (FMP), managed by Volunteer USA Foundation, join in urging adults throughout the state to find time each week to spend mentoring a child.

“Our children are this state’s most important asset and taking care of them should be a priority for each and every of us,” said Steve Uhlfelder, chair of the FMP. “Mentoring programs in every community are desperately in need of volunteers. It only takes an hour or less a week and your compassion to bring out the best in a child.”

Every year the Florida Mentoring Partnership commissions a Prevalence Study of Mentoring to analyze data from nonprofits and school districts throughout the state. Preliminary results for 2008 show there are currently more than 200,000 mentor/mentee matches in Florida.

Florida state agencies allow employees an hour per week to serve as a mentor. Additionally, over 90 cities, and many businesses including Bank of America and State Farm support mentoring initiatives. For more information about mentoring programs in Florida visit

Florida’s Mentoring Partnership Members:

  • America’s Promise
  • Best Buddies
  • First Serve
  • H.O.S.T.S-Helping One Student to Succeed
  • National Mentoring Partnership
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Communities in Schools
  • Florida Association of Partners in Education
  • Florida Campus Compact
  • Girls Scouts of Florida
  • Guardian Ad Litem
  • Take Stock in Children
  • Volunteer Florida
  • YMCA

State Agency Mentoring Partners

  • Agency for Health Care Administration
  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities
  • Agency for Workforce Innovation
  • Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
  • Department of Business & Professional Regulation
  • Department of Children & Families
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Department of Management Services
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles
  • Department of Lottery
  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Executive Office of the Governor
  • Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission
  • Florida Parole Commission
  • Florida Public Service Commission
  • Florida State Board of Administration

Florida Mentoring Partnership Advocacy Council

  • Steve Uhlfelder, Uhlfelder & Associates
  • Mayor Richard Baker, City of St. Petersburg
  • Speaker Ray Sansom, Fl House of Representatives
  • Sharon Berrian, Florida League of Cities
  • Michelle Braun, Wachovia
  • Frank Brogan, Florida Atlantic University
  • Donna Callaway
  • Karin Coleman, Take Stock in Children
  • Linda Curtis, First Serve
  • Lisa Derx, Best Buddies
  • Matthew W. Dietz, Law Offices of Matthew W. Dietz,
  • Joe Formusa, State Farm Insurance
  • Lois Gracey, Communities In Schools
  • David Griffin, Griffin & Hart, LLC
  • Ruth Haniff, Eccleston Elementary School, Orange Co.
  • Elaine Liftin, Ed. D., Council for Educational Change
  • Danny Lyons, Florida Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Kristen Knapp, Able Trust
  • Stephen Koch, Florida Association of BBBS
  • Pam Lastowski, Fl Association of Partners in Education
  • Graci McGillicuddy, Child Protection Center
  • Dennis Moore, Guardian ad Litem
  • Don Pemberton, Lastinger Center for Learning
  • Adolfo Perez, Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Dee Dee Rasmussen, Florida Campus Compact
  • Norman Ross, Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
  • Emily Santos, IBM
  • Pastor Kenneth Scrubbs, FBC of Leesburg
  • Eric Smith, Florida Department of Education
  • Carl Weinrich, YMCA Alliance