Kaylon Holt mentoringAny student or employee knows how important a mentor can be in helping pave the way for future success. At Perry Wellness Center, it’s no different. Peers striving for wellness and recovery can benefit from one-on-one time with a personal mentor. With a total of 66 peers now attending the program, however, it is sometimes difficult to find sufficient staff time to provide the level of individual attention some peers may need.

Out of this need have grown plans for a new mentoring program at our center in 2014. Staff member Mulkey McMichael, a former student mentor when employed with the Sumter County school system, has made contact with mentor facilitators throughout the local school system.

“Each time I met my student mentee in Sumter County Schools,” Mulkey explains, “I realized that many young people are ‘adult-starved.’ After each 30-45 minute visit, I realized that I took away more excitement than I brought to the meeting. It helped me have a better outlook on the future relative to student success.”

Recently, Mulkey had the opportunity to once again enjoy the experience of being a mentor, as he became involved with a special project for a young man who attends the local recovery center. Kaylon Holt, who has attended the program for about two years, recently began to share some weekly one-on-one time with Mulkey, and the results have been rewarding for both.

Kaylon, a Schley County resident, has an avid interest in sports and has enjoyed personal success as a runner. He has recently won or placed in several area road races. But the young man’s most intense interest is reserved for the world of high school football, which dominates his weekend time. While following teams throughout the area, Kaylon is particularly taken with the Marion County High School team. As the Marion County team has edged toward the play-offs, Kaylon has shared with his mentor the legacy of the area school team.

When Marion County High made it to the semi-finals, Kaylon listened to the broadcast and heard Marion County High School win the game. In his enthusiasm, he downloaded information about the state play-off game and shared it with Mulkey, who is a Marion County resident.

Kaylon has developed a particular interest in A.J. Wells, a football leader with Marion County High School. After he shared with Mulkey his goal of personally meeting A.J., a plan began to take shape in the former teacher’s mind. He contacted Marion County schools representative Judy Wells to discuss tickets and travel arrangements for the state game and ordered an “Atlanta Dome” red shirt. Ms. Wells took it from there, handling all travel arrangements, including obtaining transportation on one of the charter buses, obtaining contact information, and making plans for delivery of the ticket and shirt.

Out of Kaylon Holt’s enthusiasm about a sports dream has come the reality of a trip to the state play-offs and a chance to see his sports idol in action. His excitement has created a spirit of support at Perry Wellness Center for the rural high school football team. For Mulkey, it has also cemented the value of mentoring young peers – and really listening as they express their dreams.

In the photo, Kaylon Holt, with Mulkey McMichael, proudly wears his Atlanta Dome shirt and shows off his historic ticket to the state finals.

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