Mountain Mentors began in 1984 with the mission of “empowering at-risk teens through one-on-one mentoring to make positive life choices.” Established as an alternative-to-incarceration program, the organization pairs adults and youth in mentoring relationships. Fostering life skills through various activities, the original year-long program culminated in a5-day wilderness hike through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Recently, Mountain Mentors leadership determined they could recruit more mentors — and serve more at-risk youth for longer — by adding a year-long, Ohio-based cycling component in rotation with the existing hiking program. To secure essential equipment, they turned to the Greater Toledo Community Foundation for help.
“The bike program is more ‘sustainable,’ both in terms of being environmentally friendly and in terms of the mentoring program’s growth,” stated program director Steve Toth. “We have several activities in the Northwest Ohio area to prepare our team for the week-long, 250+ mile Great Ohio Bike Adventure. All these events are closer to home, which involves more community people and increases the teens’ scope of what’s available nearby.”
Mentor Sue Thayer agrees. “Mountain Mentors’ cycling program is a rigorous outdoor experience — but it’s not as physically demanding as the hiking, so that allows me to stay actively involved,” she notes. “I’m mentoring a gal this year who is the younger sister of two young ladies I mentored in years past. They’re practically my extended family now — so I’m thrilled I can continue to be a Mountain Mentor.”
Adds Toth, “We really appreciate the opportunity the Foundation grant afforded us. With cycling added to hiking, we strengthen recruitment appeal, offer our teens another year of mentoring, and teach important skills for lifetime use. We’re grateful to the Foundation for helping expand our service to the community.”
To learn more about Greater Toledo Community Foundation grant programs and how to apply, visit www.toledocf.org/grants/overview/ or contact Patrick Johnston, senior program officer, at 419.241.5049 or Patrick@toledocf.org.
“We really appreciate the opportunity the Foundation grant afforded us. With cycling added to hiking, we strengthen recruitment appeal and teach important skills for lifetime use.”– STEVE TOTH