FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2002
Governor John Kitzhaber joined with officials from Oregon Mentors, Portland State University and Legacy Health Systems today to announce a partnership that encourages state employees to participate in mentoring programs for children and families.
“Budget reductions have hampered our ability to help at-risk children,” the governor said. “It is time to stop turning our heads and looking away. Mentoring provides an excellent opportunity for these at-risk children to establish positive, supportive relationships with adults at a time when they need it the most.”
Under a new state policy, state employees are permitted to use flexible work schedules, job sharing, personal leave, vacation leave or leave without pay -- subject to applicable collective bargaining agreements -- to schedule regular time to participate in approved mentoring programs at no additional cost to the state.
The Oregon Commission on Children and Families will be the lead agency to work with state agencies to recruit state employees to become mentors.
The governor said studies have shown that children with mentors are less likely to begin using illegal drugs and alcohol and are less likely to engage in violence. Studies also show that young people with mentors feel more competent about their ability to do well in school, report more positive relationships with friends and parents, and have better attitudes toward school, their family and communities.
The new policy is in partnership with Oregon Mentors, a business-led, non-profit organization founded in 2001 by business, community and state government leaders to expand youth mentoring throughout the state of Oregon. Oregon Mentors is affiliated with the Portland Business Alliance.
“Today’s announcement is a milestone in the ongoing partnership between Oregon Mentors, the governor, state employees and Portland State University,” said Tom Nelson, executive director of Oregon Mentors. “This action enables more state employees to become directly involved in the lives of young people who need positive adult role models to help them succeed in school, and avoid drugs, alcohol and criminal activity.”
Nelson says state employees can connect with more than 125 certified programs providing mentors for kids in all 36 Oregon counties by logging on to www.ormentors.org
Ken Thrasher, CEO of Compli, and co-chair of Oregon Mentors commended several companies whose leaders have or will soon issue corporate “calls to action” to get their employees involved in mentoring youth. Those companies include PGE, Wells Fargo, Intel, U.S. Bank, Providence Health System, Washington Mutual, Regence BlueCross Blue Shield, PacifiCorp, Asante Health System (Medford), Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, and Legacy Health System.
Robert Pallari, president and CEO of Legacy Health Systems and a founding member of the Leadership Council of Oregon Mentors, said his company provides 1½ hours per week, paid time off to every employee to mentor or tutor a young person and provides $100 gifts to each school or program in which its employees volunteer.
“Our communities are the real beneficiaries of business-sponsored mentoring,”
Pallari said. “We all benefit when young people have hopes and dreams,
when they know they can succeed because they have someone by their side that
believes in them. Our communities are healthier and safer when kids are successful
in school and not involved in drugs, alcohol or criminal activity.”