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January 11, 2014

BILL STANCZYKIEWICZ: Employers and youth mentoring

Several state firms provide workers time with students.

While cor-porate CEO Bob Taylor spends time reviewing inventory reports, he also is taking stock of the next generation.

The company Taylor leads, Do It Best Corp., provides employees with paid time off each week to mentor children and youth. As a former national board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Taylor knows that a child who has a quality relationship with a mentor at least one hour each week tends to do better in school, avoid alcohol and drugs, stay away from crime and pursue healthy opportunities.

As a member of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Taylor also knows that youth mentoring is essential for the Hoosier State’s future economic development. “When you make that business connection, it’s another way of exposing young people early on to the opportunities that are right here in their backyard in Indiana,” Taylor said. “Hopefully that’s one more way, later down the road, of keeping them at home, helping them understand the great job opportunities that we have here.”

Kim Nymeyer manages the mentoring program for Elkhart General Hospital’s medical group which provides employees with time on the clock to mentor. Nymeyer asserted that in addition to receiving positive youth development, students who are mentored gain new awareness of career possibilities.

“They sure do,” Nymeyer declared. “This is a way to expose them to all different types of opportunities and types of jobs that they never would have imagined even existed because their scope is limited in terms of what they’re exposed to. This gives us an opportunity to show them a little bit of the world that they might not otherwise see.”

Eddie Melton agrees. Melton oversees community engagement for NiSource, headquartered in Merrillville, and his responsibilities include running a mentoring program for Gary high school students. NiSource allows employees to use company time to mentor teenagers. “We believe that having an educated emerging workforce is important to our industry and the communities that we serve,” Melton stated. “That’s why we support our employees and their efforts to mentor the youth in northern Indiana.”

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