The Vermillion Rotary Club met at its usual venue, the Freedom Forum of the Neuharth Center on the USD campus at noon on Tuesday. After a dinner of chicken breast, wild rice and salad, the meeting was called to order by President John Prescott. Our opening songs were "The Wanderer," and "Home on the Range," led by Joe Edelen with Jack Noble providing accompaniment on the piano. Three Vermillion High School seniors introduced themselves and spoke about their present activities and plans for the future. The president announced that it will soon be time for signups for members to participate in the Salvation Army Christmas bell ringers' campaign. After the introduction of several other guests and a hearty "Happy Birthday" sung by B.J. Nesselhuf, our program was presented by Shawna Vander Plaats, director of "GoodGuides," a youth mentoring group that is active in South Dakota.
GoodGuides is sponsored by the Goodwill organization, and consists of a staff of employees who oversee the operation and recruitment of mentors who volunteer to spend six hours a month for nine months mentoring a young person who is at risk for falling into an unproductive and sometimes criminal lifestyle. The purpose is to mentor the at risk young person in developing a positive outlook on life, gaining a vision for a productive live, and finding career choices that will fit that person's skills. Youth form 12 to 17 at the time of enrollment are eligible for the program, and show their need for mentoring through poor school performance, being involved in the justice or welfare systems, having a history of family neglect or drug use, or coming from a single parent home.
Mentors are chosen from among applicants who already show good life skills and are able to introduce the youth into the business and professional worlds. The program includes one-on-one time with mentored visits to job sites and businesses, as well as group activities for group mentoring, group interaction and entertainment. Mentors must be at least 16 years old and will have background checks to provide safety for all concerned. GoodGuides needs as much help as it can find from mentors, financial support and connections in the community. There are GoodGuides groups in Sioux Falls, and Sioux City, but none in Vermillion. Ms. Vander Plaats phone number is 712-224-1383, and that of Gary Fuentes, who is mentor coach, is 712-224-1378.
We thank Shawna Vander Plaats for in informative program. Our meeting was closed with the singing of the first stanza of "My County 'Tis of Thee."