BRIDGES, the Fort Dodge Community School District mentoring program, has more than 90 volunteer mentors helping as many Fort Dodge students.
At Fort Dodge Middle School, four of those mentors are Iowa Central Community College football players. Jake Hora, Marvin Butler III, Kendall Jackson and Hunter Greer each take an hour a week to spend time with an FDMS student.
"A couple of my guys came to me in November ... and asked if they could get involved and give something back to the community," Kevin Twait, Iowa Central head coach, said. "I got ahold of Corey Moody (FDCSD mentoring coordinator), and he was able to get four of my kids mentoring spots at the middle school. It's a win-win situation."
The football players aren't the only Iowa Central students who volunteer with BRIDGES.
"We have 29 mentors from Iowa Central," Moody said. "It's a great partnership between Fort Dodge schools and Iowa Central Community College."
According to Moody, there are 40 mentors total, including community members, volunteering at the middle school.
For a student, the benefits of having a mentor are many. It increases graduation rates and lowers high school dropout rates, Moody said. It also improves the students' outlook.
"They're in a better mood," he said. "They look forward to the mentor to come each week."
Moody said he has seen students grow from the brief weekly interaction with a mentor.
"There's lots of reasons the student shows growth. We have school counselors and a case manager. We have a juvenile court liaison. We have lots of services in the middle school," he said. "But it's another added positive service for the students."
Volunteers benefit, as well. Not only do mentors feel a sense of accomplishment and gain insight into the challenges of young adults, Moody said, they are truly appreciated.
"(Mentors) really look forward to coming," Moody said. "It's not so much what they do with them each week, it's just making that contact each week and doing some fun things with these students."
Though BRIDGES has grown yearly, a need for more mentors still exists in the district.
"We're looking at recruiting more for the fall for the 2014-15 school year," Moody said.
Twait said he was proud of his student athletes for volunteering.
"There's a need for role models. There's a need for people who are looked up to to do things the right way," he said. "Our guys get a lot out of it too."
For more information about becoming a mentor, contact Moody at 574-5469 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.