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Newsroom First Mentor Training Class Held in Topeka, to Benefit Low-income Kansans

TOPEKA—The first group of volunteers for a mentoring initiative aimed at helping low-income Kansans escape poverty received training today, in Topeka, to put the program in motion.

HOPE Mentoring, an initiative launched in January, by Governor Sam Brownback and the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), will help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) clients to become self-reliant.

Among the mentors trained at the DCF Service Center was First Lady Mary Brownback, the program’s ceremonial “First Volunteer,” who enlisted at the launch of the initiative on Jan. 6.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to help individuals achieve their personal and professional goals,” the First Lady said. “I’ve learned a great deal through the training, and I look forward to putting my new skills to use. I encourage others who have time and interest in helping people in need to volunteer as mentors.”

DCF has set a goal of matching 1,100 volunteer mentors with 1,100 existing TANF clients. As mentors complete the day-long training, DCF will begin pairing them with mentees. 

“Many Kansans face serious struggles in their lives, and they need the support and guidance of someone who can walk with them as they pursue a better life,” said Governor Brownback. “Simply having that strong support system can make the difference.”

The initial training session, which was open to media, was a four-hour introduction to materials produced by DCF, as well as a discussion of what makes for an effective mentor/mentee relationship. HOPE Mentoring Program Director Jim Echols said the first training event was successful, and will provide guidance for future training sessions.

“It was great to see our volunteers engaged in the instruction,” Echols said. “They’re eager to get started, and I can’t wait to see how their guidance will have a positive impact on our clients.”

Mentor Coordinators are now actively recruiting mentors throughout the state, in DCF’s four regions. The Mentor Coordinators include: Milcah Lewis, Kansas City Region; Mike Siebert, East Region; Celina Porter Wichita Region; Julio Victorio West Region. 

DCF plans a second phase of HOPE Mentoring, to kick off in July, aimed at youth preparing to age out of foster care. Volunteer mentors will be paired with youth as they transition to independence.

Please help us promote the need for volunteers. Applications can be filled out at The next mentor training session will be held March 9, at the Kansas City Service Center.

George Williams teaches at HOPE Mentoring Training 
(George Williams teaches new mentors at HOPE Mentoring Training.)

First Lady Brownback attends HOPE Mentoring Training
(First Lady Mary Brownback attends the first class of HOPE Mentoring Training.)