Looking For Lunch Buddies

Kaylee Talbot (left) stands with her mentor Kathy Bruggeman after a lunch buddy visit last school year. MAV Youth Mentoring is looking for more volunteers for this year.
Staff Writer

Imagine being able to make a lasting impact on a child’s life. MAV Youth Mentoring is offering that opportunity to local adults.

Formerly known as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, MAV Youth Mentoring disaffiliated in early 2019 and began offering more localized services for Mercer, Auglaize and Van Wert counties. One of those services is a lunch buddy mentoring program. 

Volunteers will go to St. Marys Primary School every other week during their youth’s lunch period for lunch and fun free-time activities including board games, crafts, recess or even just talking to each other. Mentors and youth decide each visit what they would like to do during the free time. 

“There’s no deadline [to sign up] but the sooner the better because I still have eight spots — about half of the kids — available,” said MAV Youth Mentoring Site-based Coordinator Nancy Eberle. “I don’t want any child to go without a mentor this year. If the school feels this kid could use a mentor, I want to do everything I can to find them one.”

Mentors can come from any walk of life, as long as they can pass a background check. Eberle said the only requirements are a willingness to help the students, be able to get around and want to spend time with kindergarten, first and second graders. Mentors may bring their lunch to the child’s school, buy the school’s lunch or eat their lunch at another time. 

With the program starting last year, Eberle reports that feedback has been positive.

To help make mentors more available to the kids who need their guidance, Eberle said the program is willing to work with volunteers’ schedules based on where they live or work. With the mentor visits being a brief 45 minutes twice a month, the coordinator said she understands some people can’t make it back to St. Marys if they work out of town. 

To be more accommodating, Eberle has nine lunch buddy programs active across the three counties MAV serves. 

Programs are available in Celina, Coldwater, Delphos, Fort Recovery, Parkway St. Marys, St. Henry, Van Wert and Wapakoneta.

“If it doesn’t work for someone in St. Marys but say they have time while they’re at work somewhere else, we can work with that,” she reiterated.

To be a mentor, applicants must be 18 years or older, provide four references, be able to travel to and from the school and be able to pass a background check. 

“It’s a small commitment but it means a lot to the kids,” she said. 

For more information or to apply to be a mentor, Eberle can be reached by calling 419-584-2447 or 866-670-2227 or by emailing her at nancy@mavyouthmentoring.com.