Mentor Program Delivers Hope

“The students came out rather somber, but when they saw us, our signs and gifts, they erupted in big smiles … some with tears,” said Margaret Tidmore, coordinator of the New Horizons Learning Center (NHLC) Mentor Program. Last month, approximately 40 mentees received home-delivered care packages during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I’d wake up in the night thinking about our students and how they must feel during this time of isolation,” said Tidmore. “I prayed about it, and met with our mentor program committee to think of ways we could reach out to them.” A field trip was canceled due to the shutdown, so they decided to take the field trip to the students.

Brian Baber, NHLC Student Advisory Committee Chairman, and Susan Southerland, both mentor program Business Partners and mentors, met with Tidmore, Tammy Hughley, NHLC Youth Motivator and Laura Dever, NHLC Social Worker. “We discussed ways to let our students know how much we loved and missed them and were here to meet any needs they may have,” said Tidmore.

They decided to deliver care packages of encouragement and hope to the mentees’ homes, with the permission of their parents and NHLC. Since the students enjoyed playing board games with their mentors at school, the committee decided to include favorite games in the care packages. Also enclosed were puzzles, snacks, and silicone bracelets with messages of love, courage, and hope. Each mentee received a personal note from their mentor and a poster filled with words of encouragement. Food packs were brought for those who wanted them.

“We’re thankful to our Business Partners and the community for making this possible,” said Tidmore. “They have always stepped up to the plate to meet the many needs of our students.”

The care packages were delivered over two days in May while adhering to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. Tidmore, Dever, and Southerland wore masks and practiced social distancing while giving the gifts outside the mentees’ homes. “One of the students said, ‘But why can’t I hug Ms. Tidmore?’ said Margaret. “It was so hard, but we kept our distance.”

“These two days were two of the most awesome days in my career as a Social Worker for the past 39 years,” said Laura Dever. “It was truly a gift to me to see these students in their own’ turfs.’ I missed seeing them on a daily basis at school and was thrilled to be able to see them again before summer was upon all of us. The smiles and ‘air hugs’ that we received were the ‘icing on the cake.’”

“The kids were so excited to get a personal note from their mentors,” said Tidmore. “Mentors gave them permission to call or email and keep in touch, with parents’ and the school’s permission.”

“I visited with my student, Tyler, shortly before spring break,” said Craig Carter, mentor, Business Partner, and Lead Pastor at Lynn Haven United Methodist Church. “Little did I know that would be the last time I would see him this school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was very glad to receive a recent email from him that came in response to a note I sent him through the Care Package visits. I look forward to resuming our mentoring relationship when schools reopen in the fall.”

Laughter and tears filled the students’ reactions. “I don’t want to work from home. I want to go back to school!” “I love you! I miss you. I want to go back to school!”

“The day was really special for the kids,” said Susan Southerland, “because of the way the school year ended, and for them to see how they were loved and cared for and thought of. It was a great honor for me to be there. The neatest thing was for me to see the kids’ reactions when they saw Ms. Tidmore. She has poured herself into those kids and they really love her!”

To learn about becoming a mentor or Business Partner for the New Horizons Learning Center Mentor Program, visit BecomeAMentor.org.

Link to News Herald article.

Tidmore-Dever Pavilion Ribbon Cutting

The clouds rolled away as the temperature rose for a beautiful January day in Florida. Perfect for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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Linda Coram and Cliff Munson

Guests were greeted with acoustic music by Cliff Munson and Linda Coram, members of The Good For Nothin’ Band. Mentors, mentees, and Business Partners of the New Horizons Mentor Program gathered in the shade of the new pavilion made possible by a grant from the St. Joe Community Foundation. The tables and benches were generously donated by Laura and Tom Dever.

Margaret Tidmore, coordinator of the mentor program, applied for the St. Joe grant. Laura assists in the mentor program, along with Tammy Hughley.

Brian Baber, Business Partner and Student Advisory Council Chairman, was the MC for the event. He described how Margaret started the mentor program 21 years ago — after she retired. She envisioned an outdoor shade pavilion where mentors and their mentees could relax, talk, and enjoy the outdoors together. Many said it couldn’t be done, but she persisted in seeing her dream become a reality.

MenteeOne of the student mentees asked to speak, and boldly shared how thankful she was for her mentor and the mentor program.

Cutting

Brian Baber, Margaret Tidmore, and Laura Dever

PaviolionAfterward, mentors and mentees enjoyed cookies under the pavilion while others played at the new basketball hoop nearby, paid for by Business Partner donations.

Basketball b“We’re very thankful for the generosity of the St. Joe Community Foundation,” said Margaret, “in making this shade pavilion possible for the students, and also for Laura and her husband, Tom, providing the beautiful tables and benches.”

The pavilion will be enjoyed by all New Horizons Learning Center students, as a place to enjoy each other’s company outside in the shade.

News Herald Tidmore-Dever Pavilion article

GO! Mentor Program Article

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Margaret Tidmore

As our mentor program prepares for the new school year Get Acquainted Luncheon for mentors, students, and parents this month, we express our thanks to the 80 mentors and 68 business partners who helped to make 2017-2018 a banner school year for the program, graduating the school’s largest class to date.

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Tammy Hughley

We’re also thankful for the two school staff members who work every day in the mentor program, Margaret Tidmore, who founded the program, and Tammy Hughley, her assistant. Thank you, too, to the other school staff members who help when they are able, and to all the community volunteers who give of their time and talents to help make the program a success.

A recent article published in GO! Magazine tells the story of the mentor program’s beginnings and appears below. To see the article and magazine online, click here.

GO Least of Her Brethren 1

GO Least of Her Brethren 2

Impacting One Life For Good

MentorMenteeFor one student at New Horizons Learning Center, you might be the difference between angry frustration or rising self-esteem, loneliness or friendship, hopelessness or encouragement, dropping out or graduating. You can be the critical difference in whether a child becomes a burden to society or a successful contributor. You can plant seeds of hope, friendship, acceptance and wisdom. You can impact a young person’s life for good … by becoming a mentor.

With the new school year under way, we are now accepting mentor applications at New Horizons Learning Center. Feel free to explore our site to learn how you can give just a little of your time to help change the course of one child’s life.

One of our Business Partners, St. Joe Community Foundation, recently donated two runs of a full-page ad in the Panama City News Herald about our program, for which we are deeply grateful. It tells some of our students’ and mentors’ stories, and we hope it will be an inspiration to you.

St Joe full page NHLC ad August 2018 online

Year-End Activities & Graduation

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Smiles and laughter recently filled the halls of New Horizons Learning Center during 2018 year-end and graduation activities.

On May 4th, several students were treated to quite an incentive award donated by Capt. Ken Anderson — a full-day charter fishing trip.

On May 22nd and 23rd, award ceremonies were held for the middle school and high school students, during which each student received award certificates. Parents and mentors attended and cheered them on.

The NHLC Mentor Program hosted the annual Senior Luncheon on May 29th at O’Charley’s Restaurant on 23rd Street, which is a generous business partner of the mentor program. Graduating students attended with their parents and mentors, along with school staff and School Superintendent Bill Husfelt. Neysa Wilkins, WJHG Anchor, delighted everyone in song. Her performance included honoring mentors and parents with “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Each graduating senior received a certificate and gift bag, sponsored by the mentor program.

Later that day, seniors, school staff, families and mentors gathered at the Mosely High School Fine and Performing Arts Center for graduation. School principal Wes Smith announced this as the largest graduating class in the school’s history, with twenty-six graduates. Accompanying Mr. Smith on stage were: James Harmon, the school’s Dean of Discipline; Superintendent Bill Husfelt; Exceptional Student Education Director Pat Martin; and County Commissioners Joe Wayne Walker, who is a mentor, and Jerry Register, a business partner.

Teacher of the Year and Support Employee of the Year awards were bestowed upon Andrea Mucelli and Beverly George, respectively.

One of the ceremony highlights was the Senior Address given by graduate Megan Adamson, who thanked those who helped her and encouraged fellow graduates to follow their dreams.

 

Annual Appreciation Luncheon

Tears flowed and hearts were lifted at the New Horizons Learning Center (NHLC) Mentor Program’s annual appreciation luncheon for mentors and business partners at Bonefish Grill on April 27, 2018.

Bonefish Brian Baber MC

Brian Baber, business partner and mentor, serves as Master of Ceremonies

Guest vocalist Bob Fowler, Principal Tuba with Panama City POPS Orchestra, performed inspiring songs for the mentors, business partners, graduating students, county and school officials, first responders and school staff attending.

Powerful testimonies by some of the graduating students and their mentors stirred hearts in the filled restaurant. Mentors shared how proud they were of their students for overcoming many obstacles. Students praised their mentors for being there when they needed them.

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Mentor with graduating senior mentee

“If I wasn’t moving away,” said business partner Cary Deasaro, “I would have signed up today to be a mentor. These students and mentors need to tell their stories more. That’s how you’ll get more mentors.”

Many business partners in attendance would agree with Deasaro, as they are also mentors to NHLC students.

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Military mentors honored

Bonefish Grill has been host to the annual luncheon for several years, donating a good portion of the cost as business partners of the mentor program.

Many thanks to our mentors, business partners, and county and school officials for their faithful support!