Mentors Connect Online, In Person

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawaii has hit on a new way to mentor teenagers, and its pilot project is underway now in Kaneohe.

Inspired by what he heard at Castle High School’s earlier “redesign” discussions, BBBS school-based coordinator Tyler Kurashige said the agency has developed a way to help the school with its character education — beyond the traditional matchings.

“It’s a blend of in-person and online communication between adult mentors and students to promote college and career readiness,” Kurashige said. “The goal is to support these students throughout their high school career and with their transition into college.”

As far as Sydney, a Castle sophomore, is concerned, it’s a definite thumbs-up. “I’m more encouraged to go to college now,” she said of her mentor, Stacy Loe Paris. “I never really had an older person outside of my family to look up to. The meetings are fun, too.”

A former TV news anchor who now runs her own public relations firm, Paris said the flexible schedule appealed to her. “It’s something different with the email,” she said. “It sounded great and it frees up my time.”

Would she do it again? “Absolutely yes!” said the Kaneohe mother. “We have a lot we can share from our trial-and-error wisdom to help someone else. And the emails make me think about my own goals.”

Kurashige is looking for about 10 adults this month to start the second pairing of mentors. Required are college graduates who can commit to one year with their mentee. Each pair has personal meetings every four to six weeks, and BBBS provides suggested themes for their email dialogue. All of it is coordinated by a BBBS case manager.

For Sena Pierce, an education evaluator who mentors student Jesy, “it’s like reliving an old version of myself — we’re both excited about art and food. She’s interested in traveling, and I’ve done a lot. It’s fun talking to her.”

To join the fun, call Kurashige at 695-4572 or email tkurashige@bbbshawaii.org.

All applicants are interviewed and undergo background checks.