July 2017 Mentor of the Month

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Sharon Gentsch, EWI Mentor

Our July 2017 Mentor of the Month is Sharon Gentsch. Sharon has been a mentor with Everybody Wins! Iowa for over five years now.

“I love to read with children, so I just thought that would be a good fit when I retire,” Sharon said.

This summer, Sharon has been reading at both the Lovejoy Elementary and River Woods Elementary programs on Thursdays.

Sharon said that being a mentor means you get a lot of perks from the children that you work with.

“You get very close to them,” Sharon said. “They’re like another set of grandchildren. They’re really a lot of fun.”

In Sharon’s personal experience, each child that you work with is very different and has different needs.

“It’s just fun to learn to get to know them, to see their faces light up when they walk in the room and you’re there,” Sharon said. “They’re just very, very special to me.”

Sharon’s son, Drew Gentsch, was a founding board member for Everybody Wins! Iowa and helped to get the program started. He was awarded the Excellence in Mentoring Award on April 26, 2017 for his volunteer service with Everybody Wins! Iowa.

Sharon worked as a site coordinator for the EWI program at River Woods and South Union Elementary from 2013-2016. The site coordinators work with school/site staff to ensure communication and coordination of the program, as well as work to guide the mentors and mentees to be successful. She still serves as a substitute when
called upon.

One story that Sharon remembers from her experience coordinating was that while waiting on her kids to come to program one day, Sharon had a boy from the school, who wasn’t enrolled in the program, ask her why not everyone got to participate in it.

“I think it should be for everybody because after all, that way everybody would win,” the young boy said to Sharon.

Sharon admitted that the boy made a very good point about that. She explained to the boy that being able to participate in the program was a little more complicated than he was aware of, although we would love if everyone got to participate.

Nonetheless, Sharon said that from reading with a child each week, over time, you really do see their skills grow.

Thank you, Sharon, for being an exceptional mentor (and staff member) with us over the years!

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