Area Nonprofit finds way to sustain mission through partnerships
WOODSTOCK – Board members of the Ottauquechee Community Partnership (OCP) are working on a plan to wrap up their service with confidence and gratitude for the school and hospital that have partnered with them to continue OCP’s mission to provide mentoring, education, and counseling to help youth in the area make healthy choices.
With the loss of a long-term Executive Director in March 2016 and declining revenues, OCP’s board of directors began assessing OCP’s community impact in relation to the resources needed to simply sustain the organization. The Board directed staff to work with community partners in the school and nonprofit sectors of the community to work more collaboratively, eliminating a duplication of services.
OCP worked with the Windsor Central Supervisory Union (WCSU) and Mt. Ascutney Hospital and formed partnerships that resulted in a “home” for the OCP Mentor and Buddy Program within the school district and a strategic direction to address substance abuse in Woodstock and surrounding communities.
Over the current school year, the WCSU has begun absorbing OCP’s mentor and buddy program and doing more direct work with students around healthy choices. Annie Luke joined the WCSU this year to help fulfill both of these roles as a Community Liaison, coordinating the mentoring program and as a Student Assistance Professional helping students to develop healthy coping skills and to avoid substance abuse problems.
Over the past several years, OCP has maintained mentoring matches in four of the six schools in the current district but the goal is that mentoring will be offered at each school.
Based on findings from “The Mentoring Effect,” a 2014 study by MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership), one in three youth in Vermont will grow up without having a formal or informal adult mentor in their lives. Mentoring is a proven strategy for promoting positive youth development and preventing youth substance abuse. The “Making a Difference” study by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America revealed that youth who were matched with a mentor were 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, and 52% less likely to skip a day of school. “The Mentoring Effect” also found that youth with mentors were 55% more likely to attend college.
“We are always looking for new mentors in all of the WCSU communities,” Luke says noting that she provides the screening, training, and pairing of students and mentors. “We are working to achieve the WCSU’s goal of helping young people to become successful, healthy, and thriving adults and build meaningful relationships with local communities.”