BROOKVILLE — Jefferson County will participate in the nationwide observance of National Mentoring Month through the rest of January, the county commissioners proclaimed at their meeting on Wednesday.
The purpose of the recognition is to raise awareness and find additional participants for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and others like it.
Heidi Stahlnecker, the program coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jefferson County, represented the organization before the commissioners on Wednesday.
"Big Brothers Big Sisters provides carefully supported one-to-one matches between adult volunteers and children in need," Stahlnecker said. "Matches get together two to three times a month for at least one year."
She said that Big Brothers Big Sisters is recognized as a model program by the National Center for Violence Prevention. It was reviewed among 900 similar programs and was rated as meeting the criteria for the highest level of evidence.
"There were only 11 programs selected, and Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of them because it was able to show sustained results — and significant results — through replicated, independent studies," Stahlnecker said.
She added that the program has been shown to prevent substance abuse among the youth that it serves, in addition to increasing school attendance by 52 percent, increasing grade point averages, supporting improved relationships between the children and their family members and peers and helping to prevent delinquency.
Throughout the month of January, Big Brothers Big Sisters will be working to make its presence known and drum up support for its efforts in the county.
"During this month, we'll be recognizing and honoring the mentors who serve in our program, and we're also encouraging other Jefferson County citizens to step up and become mentors themselves," Stahlnecker said.
She said that one in four children in Jefferson County lives in poverty, which limits their ability to participate in positive recreational activities. In addition, she said that over 2,500 family homes with children are headed by working single parents and that kids in such an environment have only limited one-on-one adult time.
"There are many children in this county who could benefit from a positive adult role model in their lives," Stahlnecker said.
She added, "During this economy, I think it's critical to continue to invest in prevention strategies that work, especially those that bond vulnerable youth to society and enable them to participate in positive ways as productive family members, employees and citizens in our community."
Throughout the month, Big Brothers Big Sisters will be encouraging all citizens of Jefferson County to get involved by becoming a mentor. It will also be asking local businesses to show their support by posting
"Mentoring Matters" on their signage. Big Brothers Big Sisters will also be available to give presentations on its operations to the employees of interested businesses.
In other business, Treasurer James VanSteenberg announced a change related to the new small games of chance laws that were passed last year. On Feb. 1 of this year, all organizations related to small games of chance were required to start their reporting process on the online system. That date has now been moved to Feb. 1, 2014.
In addition, the commissioners approved the following items:
• Invoices in the amount of $455,247.30 for the period of Dec. 26, 2012, through Jan. 9, 2013, inclusive.
• Pending invoices in the amount of $348,556.64.
• The actual gross payroll in the amount of $207,744.59 for payment for the period of Dec. 16 through Dec. 29, 2012, inclusive.
• The tentative gross payroll in the amount of $205,000 for payment for the period of Dec. 30, 2012, through January 12,
• The appointment of Scott North to the Jefferson County Planning Commission for a three-year term expiring on Dec. 31, 2016.
• The adoption of Resolution Number 2013-01 providing the Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania local funds in the amount of $62,572 for the fiscal year 2013-2014.
• The signing of an agreement with Zito Media providing it with space at the 911 headquarters for its equipment for the completion of the high-speed Internet loop that is being installed.