Rotary Mentor Program Making In Big Difference For Local Youths

A mentorship program started by the Rotary Club of St. Joseph-Benton Harbor has been such a success that it’s become a model for chapters all around the world. Jackie Huie, the CEO of Johnson Rauhoff, tells us she helped get the program rolling around 2007, when the Rotary started reaching out to professionals in all sorts fields to ask if they’d chat with high school students from St. Joseph. Since then, they’ve expanded to districts all over the area, and about 400 kids have taken part.

“What it does is it lines up students with professionals in their dream careers,” Huie said. “So it’s a system, it’s an approach we use to try to help students get closer to making a connection with someone in a career that they think they might be interested in.”

The mentor program just added Benton Harbor High School this year after it dropped out a few years back. Huie says Rotary is perfect for finding a broad range of professionals interested in working with young people.

“Rotarians are well-networked,” Huie said. “It’s usually a lot of business leaders in the community. There’s also a lot of homemakers in Rotary. We look for anybody that wants to give service.

In one case, Huie says Whirlpool’s Jeff Fettig spoke with a high school student and stayed in touch with him through college. The mentorship program has attracted international Rotary attention as other chapters launch their own. If you’re interested in bringing the program to your high school, check with the guidance office or contact the local Rotary.  You can find out more right here.