ETX mentoring program making a difference in Smith County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX mentoring program making a difference in Smith County

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

It's really great when you can help a child, and really great when you can do so on a regular basis.

January is National Mentoring Month, and one local program is changing lives in Smith County.

Kid Reach, a local mentoring program run by People Attempting To Help, or PATH, serves kids ages 6 to 18 who live in Smith County, and program organizers say it's made a huge difference in a lot of lives.

"The mentors can be anybody who's interested in being a role model for a kid," says Dana Taylor, Kid Reach Coordinator. "There are no requirements to be a mentor, it's just that you're a good citizen and want to give back through mentoring."

That's exactly what TVCC professor Jesse James was looking for when he found the Kid Reach program.

"I did used to teach high school, that was my full-time job, and just working with kids like that and seeing how many kids are less fortunate than others, you know, maybe not a stable home life for someone there, maybe not a male figurehead to help out, that kind of made me want to give back to my community and help out," he says.

He and his mentee Dion Miller were paired together two and a half years ago. They're one of Kid Reach's most active mentor groups -- they hang out for about 30 hours a month, playing video games, watching movies, even taking trips to watch football games.

"It's kind of like a friendship but it's more than a friendship. It's like, you can't get this relationship with a friend, really. It's kind of like a brother, almost, a brother that you've never had but always wanted," says Dion.

Dion says his friendship with Jesse has given him a safe place to be himself.

"Before, if I got upset or something, I would just kind of bottle it up and just go to my room and be quiet about it. But now I have someone who I can tell and trust with it and nothing bad will come from it," Dion says.

"I feel like I am making a difference in someone's life and I really enjoy that feeling, seeing that you're helping someone young grow," Jesse says.

Kid reach serves about 50 kids, and the people at PATH say there are still kids on the waiting list for that program, especially girls, who need mentors in their lives.

Kid Reach is also starting an in-school mentoring program, where mentors visit a child in school for an hour a week, to get more mentors involved.

For more information on how to get involved in Kid Reach, visit www.tylerpath.org.

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