Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 11, 2013

Mentor hopes to be big influence on student’s life

By Ken Steadman
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Roger Van Rekom and his wife, Andrea, attended a church service about three years ago and heard the executive director from Kids on the Rise (KOTR) talk about the need for more mentors. It did not take long for them to determine that they had the background and desire to help and guide a young person in need.

“Andrea and I have experienced raising our six children and have fostered several children in the past,” Roger commented. “We are grandparents to five kids and know what hope and love you can instill in young children. We knew that we could be good citizens and support a young mind with confidence, learning and respect.”

Roger became a mentor with KOTR because he felt he could make a difference in a young child’s life. He had served as a “Dad” in many activities like little league coaching and Scouts as their kids grew up. It was fun for him and beneficial for their children. Wife Andrea agreed to co-mentor with him. In addition, Andrea is a very active member of the KOTR board of directors.

Their KOTR mentee is now in the eighth grade. They have worked with him for three years

“He is smart, well behaved, good looking and pleasant to be around,” Roger stated. “He is an honor student with an AB average and plays the trumpet in the school band. In the spring, he plays baseball in the city league and plans on wrestling and boxing at the youth center as a future goal.”

Meeting new friends, going to new places, fishing tournaments, bowling, museums and eating at new places and trying new foods are always a highlight of the KOTR program for their mentee.

“Above all,” comments their mentee, “Roger listens and is easy to relate to and is very helpful.”

Roger’s final observation: “All of us can reflect back to our youth as well as our adult life recognizing just how many people have influenced our lives through actions or words. I can only hope to be one of those individuals in my mentee’s life. That is all the gratification I want and need.”

There are still about 30 young Cumberland County children who are looking for a mentor. You are invited to learn more about the KOTR program and consider giving a portion of your time to help a child in need. Call Executive Director Donna King at 459-2388 to gain more information and schedule a meeting. It is a great opportunity to share a part of you life and obtain some love and respect for the rest of your life from a child who really needs a friend.