EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the last in a four-part series featured this month in the Lake Oconee Breeze highlighting area volunteers and non-profit organizations that give back to the community. This week’s article offers a closer look at the Greensboro Elementary mentoring program.

Elaine Cinnamon knows a thing or two about lending a helping hand. As a volunteer mentor at Greensboro Elementary, as well as a mentoring coordinating, Cinnamon has seen for herself the impact that mentoring can have on the students and herself.

The program, which currently consists of about 40 mentors, offers a variety of opportunities to volunteer, said Cinnamon.

“Right now we have about 40 mentors,” said Cinnamon. “The mentors have a variety of positions, as far as what the needs are in the school. Some of the mentors work one on one with students that are identified by administrators or teachers. Some of them work with small groups. And some work with the class as a whole.”

The program encourages volunteers to use their particular skills to contribute to their mentoring sessions, such as working on specific projects like writing letters, making cards or even trying their hand at origami, said Cinnamon.

“We do a variety of disciplines that encourage them to be creative and encourage their thought processes,” she said.

Many mentoring volunteers also make a special effort to participate in regularly scheduled school activities, such as programs or field trips, said Cinnamon.

“We also try to be there when they have special programs so we can sit with our class and be part of their regular schedule. Friday there’s a program for Black History Month, so I’ll be there for that. In addition, we all try to go on the class field trips with the students, to not only share but to help.”

Cinnamon said the program is always looking for additional volunteers.

“We try always to encourage other people to be a mentor,” she said. “The basic philosophy that we have is that you don’t have to feel committed to once a week. Whatever you can give is appreciated, but the consistency of your visits is important because the students can gain your trust and you are able to form an ongoing relationship with the students.”

The experience is especially rewarding for the students, but it has been equally important and fulfilling for her, said Cinnamon.

“My grandchildren do not live in the area and unfortunately I have missed a lot of their younger years,” she said. “I find that it’s a part of my life that I hope I can get a little bit back by getting to know these children. It is fulfilling. You find that you’re helping to guide someone who maybe does need some guidance. I find it satisfying. It’s a great feeling to be in there and hopefully be a part of their lives.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the Greensboro Mentoring Program can contact the school at (706)-453-2214 and request a mentoring program application or contact Cinnamon directly at 706-467-6585.

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