Students pair with ‘Little Buddies,’ serve community

Destiny Matthews knew she wanted to teach kids from a young age.

She would get papers from school and would hand them out to her Barbie dolls and teddy bears and pretend she was a teacher.

“I’ve always had a passion for kids,” the freshman English teaching major said.

Matthews said she hopes she will be accepted into the College Mentors for Kids Program this semester.

The program assigns student mentors with children from the Glenwood Leadership Academy from three to five every Tuesday, where they learn about higher education, community service and cultural diversity.

“I want to deal with kids and I’ve always wanted to give back to the community,” Matthews said. “So this is my chance to give back.”

Matthews said she likes that the program has diversity and different types of kids.

“I like to do different things and meet different people from different cities and states,” she said.

Jessie Archer, a freshman early childhood education major, said she completed a program in high school similar to College Mentors for Kids and wanted to see what it was about.

Archer said she wants to join the group so she can make kids’ lives a little better.

“I just love little kids,” Archer said.

Claire Ford, a senior food and nutrition major with a specialty in dietetics, has been with the program since her freshman year.

“I got involved because one of my sorority sisters was the president at the time,” Ford said. “I moved up from being a mentor to being activities director, and now this is my second year as president.”

Ford said she does a lot of database work and works with hiring the mentors and making sure the program runs smoothly.

The program involves 40 students a year and all mentors have to go through online and on-campus training.

“Seeing the excitement on all the kids faces and seeing the mentor and their little buddy build a relationship, is my favorite,” she said.

Livia Hopper, a junior biology major and vice president for College Mentors for Kids started her freshman year when her roommate encouraged her to join.

That was when Hopper met her little “buddy.”

“It was really cool,” Hopper said. “We got to get really close and it’s really interesting hanging out once a week how close you really do get. I definitely missed her all summer so I’m excited to see her again.”

The program has call-out meetings in the fall and the mentors will go all through spring and fall semesters.

“It’s been a very positive experience for me and all the little buddies involved as well and I know they really look forward to it,” she said. “It’s something that gets them out of their home life and another friend or a big sister or brother.”

Hopper said the program does a lot for the children by taking them to art museums, having dietetics teach them about nutrition. They also include service based days.

“It’s taught me a lot about responsibility and how to be a mentor, leadership opportunities that have been really important for me,” she said.