Dedicated volunteer exemplifies Mentoring Month in Greene County
~by Lora Koch, The Scranton Journal
After raising 11 children on a Scranton area farm, having 29 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, it would be reasonable to assume you might be “tapped out” on spending time with kids. But not if you are Ruth Naberhaus, one of Greene County’s long-time mentors through the KIDS with a Connection mentoring program.
“Mentoring is a very satisfying thing. I enjoy the little girls, and have always been paired very well. I really enjoy my current girl I am mentoring. We’ve been together for three years,” Naberhaus said.
“She lives down the street from me and rides her bike to my house once a week and stays a few hours. We cook and eat supper together, play games, do crafts, and I insist she read to me every time she comes.”
Raised on a farm, reading was something that was not encouraged when Naberhaus was growing up. “My mother had a German work ethic, and there were lots of hard chores and we worked hard on the farm. With no books, I read labels off cans or the newspaper, even though I couldn’t understand it,” explained Naberhaus. “When my older brother went to school, I could read his books when he brought them home from school.”
Naberhaus, who lives in Scranton, got involved in the mentor program more than 10 years ago when she was concerned about a girl who lived across the street from her. With no mentors available in the program, she decided to become a mentor herself. Since that time, she’s mentored four girls and enjoyed each one.
“It’s a very enjoyable program. I absolutely recommend it to others. It makes you feel so warm, you get to love these kids. It’s good for a child to have someone else to go to and care about them,” she said. “We definitely need more men. There are lots of boys who need mentors. Especially younger men as mentors.”
In addition to one-on-one interaction, the entire mentoring group gets together several times a year for field trips, like to the Des Moines Playhouse, an Iowa Cubs game, or a bowling alley.
Mary Tighe, program coordinator with the Greene County Extension Office, is the contact for KIDS with a Connection. “Many of us are fortunate to have one or more mentors throughout our lives, and we carry their wisdom with us as a constant reminder of the unique and timeless gift of mentorship,” said Tighe. “But if mentoring is left to chance, too many young people will be left without this positive force in their lives.
“We applaud the efforts of volunteers, schools, and the private sector to ensure that more young people in Greene County know they are someone who matters because they are connected to caring adults through mentoring,” added Tighe.
Naberhaus appreciates the support she receives from Tighe. “The extension office coordinator is a resource if you have questions or concerns throughout the mentoring process.”
In addition to mentoring, Naberhaus brings her love of reading into the Greene County kindergarten and first grade classrooms three mornings a week to volunteer reading with children.
She also volunteers at the New Hope Bargain Shoppe in Carroll. The money raised benefits the lives of New Hope clients in programs such as occupational and physical therapy, vocational services, nursing and residential programs.
What does Naberhaus enjoy doing in her free time? “I like to make dresses for girls in Haiti, India, and Africa. They need a decent dress to go to school, so people give me fabric and I make dresses. I’ve made at least 100 dresses so far,” said Naberhaus.
Even at age 81, Naberhaus is not interested in slowing down yet. “You only get one life, so you better make the most of it.”