Chautauqua Striders Rallies Support for Mentoring During National Mentoring Month

Mikayla Certo and Laura Arnold

Contributing Writer
Katrina Fuller

The month of January not only starts off a new year but also highlights the importance of mentoring in communities across the nation. National Mentoring Month is underway, and Chautauqua Striders is rallying support for this worthy cause.

Mentoring is a voluntary effort that pairs a student with an adult or young person who then provides support, guidance, and a friendly presence to rely on. Mentors may choose to participate in either community or school-based mentoring. Community-based mentoring gives the mentor and mentee a chance to get out into the community on nights and weekends. School-based mentoring allows mentors and mentees to meet during the school day once a week.

“Mentoring is worthwhile in so many ways,” said Mikayla Certo, a volunteer mentor with Striders. “You connect, explore, and go on adventures with each other. I love watching my mentee grow up and form new experiences. Mentoring is one of my favorite things I’ve done since moving to Jamestown.”

Chautauqua Striders served 144 students through mentoring last year and will continue that trajectory in 2023. More mentoring volunteers are always needed to help create a strong, supportive bond with youth, improve connections between students and school and improve graduation rates through the mentoring program.

“Mentoring is so fun and rewarding! It’s a great way to get involved in the community and do something that really matters,” said Erika Muecke, Director of Mentoring and Advocacy. “Mentors often tell me how much they enjoy hanging out with their mentee, and how much they learn from spending time with a young person. It opens windows into a different world and allows them to try new things and have meaningful experiences. Mentees love having someone to talk to and someone who really cares about them. They feel more confident about themselves and reaching their goals when they have consistent support, guidance, and encouragement. The community benefits as well when intergenerational connections are made, its young people have a web of support, mentor and mentee pairs take part in community events, and when different groups of people are getting to know and understand each other.”

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to

make positive choices, attend, and engage in school, and reduce or avoid negative behaviors. In turn, these young people are:

  • 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college.
  • 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.
  • 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
  • More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.

To find out how you can be involved or for more information contact Erika Muecke at 716-488-2203 or visit For more on National Mentoring Month, visit