Claremore Daily Progress

January 25, 2014

MENTORING: Local radio personality tells Volunteers for Youth about importance of being an example

Tom Fink
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Local radio personality Sunny Leigh was among those in Claremore Thursday, honoring area mentors — “PALS” — at the Volunteers for Youth Mentor Recognition luncheon.
Although not a member of Volunteers for Youth herself, before she was a personality on KVOO Radio, Leigh was a teacher in Florida. During her brief address, she touched upon the importance of being a positive influence in the lives of young people.
“After college, I went to Florida, where I worked with dolphins — growing up, that had always my dream — but to supplement my income, I also taught school,” Leigh said, “but the school where I taught was, at the time, had it’s problems — teen pregnancy there was the highest in the state, and at one time, the nation, and many of the students had no interest learning.”
Despite the challenges, Leigh said she attempted to connect with each of her students — one in particular, a young man named Hector — to encourage them to better themselves.
“Sometimes you don’t realize until you get into a situation, how hard some of these (kid’s) lives are — how much they need someone to be an example to them, to encourage them to excel, and to make the most of their lives — to show them that they are important, and that’s what you (Volunteers for Youth PALS) do,” she said. “Never doubt for a second that what you’re doing doesn’t impact the lives of these kids — it does, and it impacts them for the rest of their lives, and in some cases, can even inspire them later in life to be a positive influence themselves.”
In addition to hearing Leigh’s address, Volunteers for Youth board, staff, and volunteers recognized local man Augustus “Gus” Ramirez as “Mentor of the Year,” and acknowledged Larry “Ace” Parker for his 11th year of volunteerism as a PAL.
“To echo what Sunny said and what you already know, mentoring makes a difference — a permanent, lasting difference — in the lives of these young people,” said Volunteers for Youth Executive Director Mendy Stone. “Statistics only support the ‘mentoring effect’ in telling us that at-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college, participate in extracurricular activities, hold a leadership position in a club, and volunteer in their communities. 
“As we like to say, be someone who matters to someone who matters,” she said.
To learn more about Volunteers for Youth, call (918) 343-2530 or e-mail mendy.s@volunteersforyouth.com.