CIS/FC Appreciates Mentors

Original article published by The Cochran Journal on 2/19/2013.

mentor breakfast 2013-1


As a highlight of January being National Mentoring Month, Bleckley County Middle School hosted a Mentor Appreciation Breakfast on Friday, January 25, 2013 for Mentors serving in the CIS/FC Mentoring Program. Over 40 Mentors, Mentees and guests were in attendance for the fun-filled event.

Bleckley Middle School is proud to have 25 Mentors volunteering their time to meet once a week with their Mentee for an entire school year. Together they enjoy all types of activities such as drawing, cards, basketball, painting, jewelry making, board games and lots of laughter and conversation. The program is designed for both the students and adult to form a strong trusting friendship and to have FUN!

In addition to mentoring, Communities in Schools of Cochran/Bleckley County and Family Connection Community Partnership, Inc. provides the following initiatives for our school system: 21st Century Community Learning Center After School Program, Abstinence Education and Youth Development program and Safe Schools/Healthy Students program services which include Mental Health services, Family Case Management services, Parents As Teachers program or Wellness and Prevention programs.

If you are interested in more information about the mentoring program or would like to sign up for training next fall, please contact Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, CIS/FC Site Coordinator at 934-4300 or email


Mentors Needed at BCMS

Communities In Schools of Cochran/Bleckley County and Family Connection Community Partnership, Inc. is offering a free New Mentor Training on Friday, September 28, 2012 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at Bleckley County Middle School. This is our annual kick-off for the 2012-2013 school term and we will not be able to offer group training again until next fall.

Mentoring at BCMS has been in existence since 2008 and we have volunteers that are still meeting with the same child! That speaks volumes about the program.

There is one big rule that the mentoring program dictates. YOU MUST HAVE FUN! You are not a tutor, parent or disciplinarian. You are there to be a friend to a young person. Long term friendships are built because the adult and child form a strong bond from the beginning. We take great care in matching by compatibility. We look at interests, hobbies and personalities of both the student and adult through their applications and interviews. This process has proven to be essential in the program’s success.

What will be expected of me if I decide to Mentor? Many are hesitant to become a Mentor because they think they don’t have enough time. Our program asks of one hour, one day per week for an academic school year.

Most of us waste that much time checking our emails or Facebook. Mentor, Anderson Ligon says “I am personally and professionally grateful for the opportunity to be a mentor in the mentoring program. Mentoring has provided me with guidance, patience, hope and enrichment. The more you give, the more you receive. Mentoring is definitely a Win-Win opportunity!”

Those interested in becoming a Mentor must be at least 18 years of age, complete training and a background check. If you are interested in registering for training or have questions about the program, please contact Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, CIS/FC Site Coordinator at 478-934-7270. 

You may call the main office of Communities In Schools/Family Connection at 478/934-4300 for information on any of our other initiatives including the 21st Century Community Learning Center After School program, Abstinence Education and Youth Development program or any of our Safe Schools/Healthy Students program services which include Mental Health services, Family Case Management services, Parents As Teachers program, or Wellness and Prevention programs.

Moments In Mentoring – January 2012

Contributed by: Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, Safe School Healthy Student’s Family Outreach Coordinator and Mentoring Program Coordinator

Published by: The Cochran Journal

Holly Savant and Selena Johnson

Mentoring is still going strong in Bleckley County!  Perhaps you’ve seen the billboard at the four-way stop on your way to school?  It depicts five individuals smiling and challenging you with the title, “WE MENTOR IN BLECKLEY COUNTY! WHY DON’T YOU?”  To date we have 27 adults who have stepped up to the plate to make a once a week commitment to enhance a child’s life.  .  Mentors bring a fresh perspective to a youth by their own life’s experience, talents and struggles.  Who among us can’t think of at least one person who has inspired us along the way to adulthood?  Can you imagine that person not having been a part of your life?  What impact did they have on you?

January is National Mentoring Month and we begin by featuring Mrs. Holly Savant and Selena Johnson, an eighth grader at Bleckley County Middle School.  Selena and Holly were matched at the beginning of the school year because of their similar personalities and interests in art and language arts.  It was clear that a perfect match had been made upon their first meeting.  They soon decided that they wanted to paint on canvas and focus on art projects.  Mrs. Savant brought canvases and bottles of brightly colored paint for their first session.  A friendship was beginning between the two of them that has only gotten stronger as the weeks have passed.

I recently visited the pair to find out what the mentoring program has meant to them.  As I walked in the door, they were both smiling, surrounded by hot buttered biscuits, juice and art supplies.   Fun was in the air and I didn’t want to take up too much of their time together as they only get to meet once a week for up to one hour.   Selena was quick to say that she wasn’t sure she was going to like the mentoring program at first, but, her family encouraged her to meet just once.  She said that she and Mrs. Savant hit it off from the first time they met sharing a love for art, writing, shopping, drawing and of course, biscuits!!  She said that she can’t wait for Tuesdays.  “My Mentor is someone that I trust with whatever is bothering me.  She always gives me fair advice.  My friends hear about all the things we do together and they want a Mentor too!”  So the word is out amongst the students at BCMS!

Mrs. Savant, a mother herself, was excited and nervous when she heard that she was going to be matched with Selena.  She said, “I was worried I wasn’t cool enough for an eighth grader!”  She stated that within the first five minutes she knew they were perfect for each other!  Mrs. Savant really enjoys doing artistic projects with her own children; however, sometimes it’s hard to fit it in her schedule. She knows that at least once a week she will be able to have a creative outlet.  She literally leaves the school from seeing Selena and her thoughts turn to thinking about all the imaginative things they can do together next time.

Holly challenges the adults in our community to mentor.  She said, “Just do it!  Saying that the program has its rewards is so cliché’, but it is absolutely true.  I believe that the Communities In Schools/Family Connection mentoring program gives kids purpose, but, it gives me purpose too.  I don’t think people in Bleckley County know that there are so many kids are waiting for us to do this.

Regina Smith, Safe Schools Healthy Students Project Director, says that the mentoring program is one of the many initiatives sponsored by Communities In Schools of Cochran and Bleckley county and the Family connection Community Partnership also known as the Cochran/Bleckley Community Collaborative.  Through CIS, which is a local non-profit, we bring all partners together in our community to collaborate and work together to surround our most at-risk students with support.  We also provide a comprehensive 21st Century Learning Center after school tutorial program, Abstinence Education program, and our SSHS initiative provides Family Case Management, Mental Health, Prevention and Parent Educations services. Regina added, “We are very fortunate in Bleckley County to have Gretchen Wilson-Tuck to head up our mentoring program.  Gretchen is committed to ensuring the success of this program as well as the students served by each of her mentors.”


Come join our Marvelous Mentors and make a difference in lives of children of Bleckley County!!!   Call Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, SSHS Family Outreach Coordinator, at 934-4300 or 934-7270  if you are interested in knowing more about the program or would like to sign up for our next training session!

Bleckley Kicks off Mentoring with a Breakfast

On Wednesday, September 15, 2010, the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Mentoring Initiative had a terrific turnout during the Mentor/Mentee Kick-Off Breakfast.  The football themed event was held at the Bleckley County Middle School Lunchroom with many parents, mentors, mentees, principals  vice-principals, counselors and staff in attendance.

Over the past two years the school-based mentoring program has had many outstanding adults from our community come forward and give of their time and talent.

Some of our matches have had to change, just as some players change on a team.  However, the initiative is still going strong with over 20 matches in place and more adults coming forward to be trained and matched.  The benefits of mentored students can be measured by better behavior at school and increased grades, but the close bonds of friendship formed between both student and adult are the most rewarding.  Several mentors have followed their mentee to high school, this is quite a testimony to the program’s importance to all involved. 

To become a mentor you can contact Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, Bleckley County Family Outreach Coordinator at (478) 934-4300.

Moments in Mentoring: Coach Jimmy Kilpatrick is giving back and in a big way

Mr. Jimmy Kilpatrick and mentee

What does a retired football coach from thirty plus years of service to the Bleckley County School system do with some of his free time? He takes time to mentor! Coach Jimmy Kilpatrick is giving back and in a big way. Once a week he can be found in the old high school lunchroom playing games, laughing and most importantly…listening.

When asked why he decided to join the Communities In Schools, Inc. and Family Connection Mentoring program he simply stated, “Well, I have three grandsons of my own and I thought to myself…..I can meet once a week and be a friend to a child. I can do that!” His dedication to his profession is reflected in his mentoring. Mr. Kilpatrick is present in every sense of the word. He says the most rewarding experience he has had with his mentee is just getting to sit and listen to this little boy talk. He explained how easy the bond formed between them and how he has become like a part of his family even though they only get to mentor at school.

Mr. Kilpatrick had a few concerns about becoming a mentor in regards to his past experience of mainly teaching and coaching older students. He wondered if he could really communicate with a 3-5th grader. Those fears have been put to rest as this “team” is a real success story!

Jimmy has clear advice on the topic of Bleckley County residents getting involved in the mentoring program. He simply said, “Try it!! The statement used in our mentoring program really spoke to me as it reads: “You never stand so tall as when you bend down to help a child”. I believe in that statement.”

We are grateful to Mr. Kilpatrick for his dedication to mentoring and to all our mentors. We still need many more mentors, especially males, as referrals come in almost daily. Please consider this something you can do for your community. If you are interested, contact the CIS/FC Mentoring Program at 478-934-4300.



Mentor/Mentee/Parent Breakfast

On January 14, 2010, a breakfast was held for new mentors to meet with their mentees’ parents/guardians.  An update of Mentoring 2010 was discussed as well as an overview of FAST Training.  We had 20 mentors, 13 mentees and 7 parents to attend.

It was a great celebration and potential  mentor applications were distributed.

Mentoring is still alive and growing!

Moments In Mentoring: October 2009

Brandi and Shaniya Moments in Mentoring  10 09 003

Mrs. Brandi Thompson, CIS/FC/21st CCLC Site Coordinator, is now on her second year of mentoring.  She came to the experience with an open mind and heart and was easily matched with a young vivacious 4th grader at BCES.  Brandi has a keen ability to manage her time, but as a mother of two young children and with her work responsibilities, adding mentoring to the list was not entered into lightly.  Her desire was to help a child to know that there are people who care for them and that will be there for them.  Brandi stated, “There have been several weeks where it has been really tough with my work schedule but I always try and make it happen even if it’s on a different day.”  When asked what she would tell others about mentoring she enthusiastically said, “Do it!  You may not feel prepared, capable or worthy to mentor someone else but you will be greatly rewarded.  The training I received prior to mentoring was very enjoyable, interactive and I felt I was equipped to mentor!”

Brandi and her mentee enjoy coloring, painting, playing on the computer and playing board games.  She says that she learned patience and knows it doesn’t matter what you bring to your mentee just as long as you are committed and bring yourself!

The CIS/FC Mentoring Program is entering its second year and our list of mentors has grown to thirty-five!  These wonderful and caring volunteers are making a huge impact on the children of Bleckley County.  Our motto is “Reaching a Dream….One Child at a Time.”  It is with this one on one experience that lives are connected and the friendships formed are deep and long lasting.

Our greatest need going into our new school year is that of male mentors.  We have over 20 young males that have no mentors and it is so difficult to find adult males to step up and see how valuable they would be to the program.  The commitment level, after initial training, is 45 minutes once a week.  If you are interested in mentoring a child or would like more information about the program, call Gretchen Wilson-Tuck, CIS/FC Mentoring Coordinator at 934-4300 or email at Contact your child’s homeroom teacher if you are interested in having your child mentored this school year.

In addition to the services provided by the Federal Mentoring Project, the Cochran-Bleckley Community Collaborative includes Communities in Schools, Family Connection, Drug Free Community Support, Congressional Course Recovery and Remedial Project, 21st Century After School Program and the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative.