OKLAHOMA CITY —
Claremore residents Agustin “Gus” Ramirez of the Volunteers for Youth PAL Program and Lonnie Good, a volunteer with STARBASE Oklahoma, were among fifty-two outstanding Oklahoma youth mentors who were honored Jan. 15 during the second annual Oklahoma Mentor Day at the Capitol presented by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative.
“The goal of Oklahoma Mentor Day is to recognize outstanding mentors from all types of youth mentoring organizations around the state and to provide fun, educational activities for the honorees and their mentees to share,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative. “Mentor Day also draws attention to the value of mentoring and the tremendous impact that mentors make in their mentees’ lives.” Mentor Day is held in conjunction with National Mentoring Month in January.
The initiative, named for foundation founder and chairman David L. Boren and his wife, Molly, grew out of Boren’s own commitment to mentoring and the proven impact that mentoring can have on a student’s success in and out of the classroom. The initiative was launched in 2006 to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide. Since then, more than 100 Oklahoma mentoring organizations have joined the foundation’s network.
Mentoring Day honorees were selected by their respective programs within the Mentoring Initiative network. Each recipient received a Certificate of Recognition signed by Boren. The award presentations, which took place in the House of Representatives’ Chambers, were made by Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence President Les Risser of Norman. Past president and trustee Patti Mellow of Oklahoma City read descriptions about each outstanding mentor.
More than 200 people, including mentors, mentees and representatives from state mentoring organizations attended the day’s events. Mentor Day included hands-on educational activities presented by the Oklahoma City Zoo Education Department and Girl Scouts-Western Oklahoma STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Program. Guests also enjoyed live jazz music by Chris Hicks and Mitch Bell and juggling lessons by Bill Williams. Capping off the day was a mentor-mentee outing to the Devon Ice Rink in downtown Oklahoma City.
Ramirez was selected by Claremore’s Volunteers for Youth PAL Program as its Outstanding Mentor. “Gus is the answer to prayer that many mentor agencies seek,” said Celina Davis, recruitment and retainment specialist, Volunteers for Youth. “He is a young-at-heart, active retiree who cheerfully participates in every facet of our agency. As a Volunteers for Youth Board Member, he provides inspiration and motivation to fellow board and staff members, alike.”
No job is too big or too small for Ramirez, Davis said. He practiced the Tango like a pro to represent Volunteers for Youth at the local Dancing with the Stars charity event. He tutors in an English class and leads an English-as-a-Second-Language group he calls “The Mexican Revolution.”
He mentors five students who were also recognized at Oklahoma Mentor Day: Kelby Brooks, Wyatt Haney, Alex Harvey, Austin McMahan and Ernesto Solis. “His mentees all know that Gus has got their backs and will not let them fail,” Davis said.
Good, a technical trainer at NORDAM, was selected as the Outstanding Mentor by the Department of Defense STARBASE Oklahoma 2.0 Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program at Hamilton Elementary in Tulsa.
STARBASE 2.0 combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with a relationship-rich, school-based environment serving at-risk youth making the transition from elementary to middle school.
STARBASE 2.0 uses a team mentoring approach, with three to four students meeting with one adult mentor for four hours each month during the school year and focusing on a STEM project, team building and goal setting.
“Contagiously enthusiastic, Mr. Good was instrumental in recruiting two additional mentors from NORDAM,” said Pamela Kirk, director of the Department of Defense STARBASE Oklahoma program. “He demonstrated to the students how it is possible to succeed in programs that provide access to future STEM opportunities.
The teams of students, with guidance from mentors, used the Engineering Design Process to construct a remote-controlled operational submersible robot.”
For more information about Oklahoma Mentor Day or the Boren Mentoring Initiative, visit www.okmentors.org or contact Beverly Woodrome, program director, at (405) 236-0006.