La Crosse Area YMCA looking for volunteers for mentoring program

Reach and Rise program serves at-risk students in La Crosse

Kids who come from broken homes or who have had a rough start with little guidance are currently helped through a La Crosse Area YMCA program called Reach and Rise.

Its goal is to mentor students who haven’t had success in other mentoring programs. And with more volunteers needed, the YMCA is looking for some help.

At first, Kallen Anderson was a little apprehensive to work as a Reach and Rise mentor.

“At first I said, ‘No, Kallen you are way too busy. You are just too involved with so many other things like that!'” she said.

While she hasn’t been with the program for very long, Anderson knows it’s already making a world of difference.

“I can already see so much change going on,” she said.

“Our mentors love the impact they have on the youth and the impact they have on changing the youth’s lives,” La Crosse Area YMCA’s mentoring director Kellen Holden said.

Organizers said the program aims to build a positive connection between the youth and an adult mentor.

“They can work on anything they want to work on as long as they are making good choices, and they just build a healthy relationship to help them out in different areas of life,” Holden said.

The main goal is to help youth who are already at a disadvantage within the community.

“The kids that we work with usually come from broken homes, or went through the foster care system and are now working with an aunt or uncle or a grandparent,” Holden said.

But the program could use some help.

“Currently there are 15 mentors in the Reach and Rise program. We are an intentionally small program, so we’ll never have 30, but we are looking to expand,” Holden said.

It’s a program both organizers and Anderson say makes a real difference in children’s lives.

“Defiantly do it. It’s so worth it,” Anderson said. “You are able to see almost an instantaneous change in the youth or teen that you are mentoring.”

“Just knowing that they had that impact that they were a part that made that difference in that kid, is just incredible to feel that,” Holden said.

The program does have a few requirements.

Those interested must be at least 23 years of age and must have a clean background check and driving record.

Volunteers must also commit to a year in the program, and work with the child 1-3 hours per week.

Anyone interested is asked to contact the YMCA at (608) 519-5491 for more information.