DELHI — Public education can either be the highlight of a child’s life or the worst possible experience.
As children begin to spend the majority of their time in school, they quickly begin to develop a certain opinion about it. From a young age, a student develops a certain outlook on life and all it encompasses, based on his or her experiences with it.
Some children may have a difficult time fitting in, excelling in academics or participating in athletic activities. These variables can slowly wear on a child’s self-esteem and confidence. After all, a number of young students may potentially suffer from health issues beyond their control. Together, these conflicts require a solution that is often met by the attention and help of someone else.
This is exactly what Ellen Krogmann and the compassionate people of the Youth Mentoring — Helping Services for Youth & Family are all about.
Krogmann was born and raised a Delaware County citizen. This mother, wife and devoted public servant has been involved with mentoring coordination for the past 13 years. After receiving her degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in marketing from Iowa State University, Krogmann used her education and passion to move back home to Manchester to be a part of a local youth mentoring program. For the past nine years, Krogmann has been working closely with the children and family of Delaware County, providing adequate assistance to those in need.
Krogmann is by far one the easiest people to talk to. When you approach her, a certain level of positivity, kindness and professionalism is exuded. This is a woman who understands the values of relationships and wishes to do anything to create a healthy and encouraging match for children in need.
The Youth Mentoring — Helping Services for Youth & Family is a part of a nonprofit organization based out of Decorah. This unique organization offers a number of services and opportunities to the children of northeast Iowa, including those in Delaware County. As mentoring coordinator — and sole county director — Krogmann provides for children between the ages of 5 and 16.
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Krogmann has integrated her love for helping into the school systems of Delaware County. She works to match students with high-quality role models in the West Delaware Community School District, Maquoketa Valley Community School District and Edgewood-Colesburg Community School District.
“It is just Delaware County. I’m just a one-man band, I do this by myself, and I am full time,” Krogmann said. “We’ve just really expanded. We currently have about 40 matches but when we get things up and running, usually by the first of the year ... we’re usually around 50 to 55 matches.”
Krogmann’s responsibilities don’t stop there, however. She manages additional community-based and after-school mentoring programs on top of school services.
A child is set up to become mentored based off a number of possibilities.
“Perhaps they are struggling socially, academically, making and keeping friends, or they might be bullied at school,” Krogmann said.
The one-on-one mentoring service aims to match kids who are experiencing these situations with trusting and caring adults. By meeting at least once a week, children are allowed the chance to talk about their thoughts and ideas and engage in activities that keep them tethered to their childhood.
The results speak for themselves. Krogmann demonstrates how the program is working and how children are benefiting from having a strong adult presence and role model in their lives.
“A lot of the kids that were mentored come back (to me) and say I want to do what that mentor did for me,” she said.
This is, by far, the most obvious product of a quality program and it speaks volumes of how it truly affects the lives of the children involved.
One of the greater struggles Krogmann has to deal with is gathering enough mentors.
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“Right now I have 12 kids waiting and its finding the right volunteer mentor to match them with,” she said.
Many of the children waiting to be paired are young males who would benefit from the pairing and interaction of a fellow adult male.
“My biggest challenge is finding males,” Krogmann said. “It is really hard to find men to be involved.”
Through all of these specific obstacles, the most clear and present threat to the Youth Mentoring — Helping Services for Youth & Family is funding.
“We are very limited on funding and sometimes we don’t know where we are going to be a year from now. ... whether I am going to have a job and continue to provide this service in the county.”
The majority of the Helping Services funding is derived through grant proposals and a number of fundraising events that take place throughout the year.
Krogmann’s goals for the mentoring service are clear and defined.
“(I want to) definitely try to find volunteer mentors to be matched with those kids that are waiting,” she said. “Some of the kids on our waiting list have been on there for anywhere from six months to two-and-a-half years now. (I want to) provide a volunteer mentor for every child that wants one and desires one.”
To learn more about the services administered and what Krogmann accomplishes, check out the information on here or contact a service professional about how you can get involved today.