A unique small-ratio mentoring and tutoring ministry, Path To Shine® (PTS) is excited to announce the kick-off of its 2017 Share the Love awareness and fundraising campaign.
You can help this fast-paced, 28-day effort celebrate February as the “Month of Love” in two simple ways.
With more than 160 actively enrolled children and 130 dedicated volunteers in 13 diocesan locations, Path To Shine’s desire to draw its circle wide with the Share the Love campaign is rooted in the ministry’s founding belief that elementary school children living in poverty need caring, committed mentors and tutors who encourage them to see their own paths to becoming successful adults. Since 2010, the ministry has strived to inspire underserved children to achieve hope-filled dreams, while motivating adults to volunteer and make a difference in a child’s life.
Path To Shine’s Two-Pronged Focus Benefits Children and Volunteers Alike
With an intentional 2:1 ratio of children to adults, PTS’s programs are focused on creating significant impacts by matching children with volunteers whose mentorship becomes a steady and trusted presence in their lives.
“Although it’s tempting to go out and find hundreds of children, I’m very clear that lots of smaller programs are more beneficial than one big program,” said Deacon Lesley-Ann Drake, Path To Shine’s executive director. “With smaller programs, you get to know the children and the children get to know the volunteers. You get to know the families. There is a level of deeper connection, and you build trust.”
Path To Shine’s innovative approach also places great importance on the volunteer experience. PTS provides multi-faceted training for all volunteers, covering topics such as mentoring, effective listening, diversity, and methods for helping children improve their reading skills. PTS volunteers range from high school students and retired teachers to working adults across a wide range of professions.
“One of the things that we learned very early on with Path To Shine is that volunteers need training. Anyone who is going to volunteer for anything needs tools and needs to feel safe and competent,” explained Drake. Deacon Edith W. Woodling, a retired educator, helps with the training.
PTS’s Whole-Child Approach: Character Building, Guest Speakers, Life Enrichment
Predictability is critical to fostering a sense of trust and safety. For many Path To Shine students, the program’s routine provides a gentle opportunity to participate without fear of being wrong or judged.
A typical PTS afternoon includes quiet time for volunteers to work one-on-one or in small groups. Mentors work with the same students each week, helping with homework, reading together, or catching up on the week's events. Snack and playtime are also valuable parts of the program. Another key element of PTS is structured group time. Through stories told using books or guest speakers, group time is an opportunity to practice attentive listening and comprehension and learn valuable life skills.
Finally, there is only so much a child can learn in the classroom. A lot of what we learn is outside the school building – experiences and adventures many people take for granted. For Path To Shine children, an outing to a horse stable, a museum, or a Braves game offers a rare opportunity to experience something new. Financial support from campaigns like Share the Love enables the ministry to support the local programs to allow enrichment of kids’ lives with fun and educational excursions.