La Grange youth agency matches mentors with students
Jorge Hervas, a mentor at The LeaderShop, with mentee Jose Mendez. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Driving: Must have license, insurance, good record
Commitment: Four hours a month for one year
More information: Visit www.theleadership.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (708) 579-5898.
Updated: April 1, 2013 2:05AM
LA GRANGE — Cesar Ponce and 12-year-old Jason Reyna met for the first time in November through a mentoring program of The LeaderShop, a youth development agency in La Grange serving more than 1,000 children and teens in surrounding communities.
“We both are Chicago Bears fans, we both like video games and we both play basketball,” Jason said. “We also tried each other’s favorite restaurants.”
Jason lives in a group home in La Grange with Jose Mendez, 8, who met his mentor, Jorge Hervas, in October.
“We went to a dog beach when it was nicer out. That was fun,” Hervas said. “We’ve also been to the forest preserves, the Children’s Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the zoo.”
Hervas, a fifth-grade bilingual teacher at Scott School in Melrose Park, may have a tough time meeting Jose’s next request, unless nature cooperates.
“I would like to do a snowball fight or make a snowman next,” Jose said.
Hervas said he signed up for the program as a way of giving back, and with the encouragement of his wife, a Lyons Township High School graduate and former volunteer for the agency when it was called CEP Youth Leadership in the 1990s.
Ponce grew up in Summit and attended CEP programs while he was a student at Argo Community High School. Ponce said he enjoyed volunteering as a mentor a year ago with another boy. He took a break and was ready for a new friendship, he said.
Ponce and Hervas are two of 23 adult volunteers matched with area students, said Jessica Kurpiel, who coordinates the mentoring program. There is a waiting list of nine kids or teens who would like a mentor.