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Mentor Kenosha & Racine
March Mentoring Messenger  

In This Issue:
Meet KUSD's New Mentor Coordinators
Meet a Mentor
Ask the Mentoring Expert
Mentoring Tips & Tools
Inspirational Quote of the Month
Upcoming Events:
YourU Catalog
Check out next semester's lineup of noncredit and credit continuing education opportunities at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Ever wanted to learn Italian or self-defense? You won't believe the variety of courses offered! 
Big Read
Fiesta Grande!
March 31st, 2012
Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha

Mentor Certificate Program
Beginning April 20th
University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Tallent Hall
New this year! Learn how to create, implement and sustain a quality mentoring program.

UW-Parkside Alumni Day
April 28th, 2012
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Diversity Training
May 10th, 2012
University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Tallent Hall
More information coming soon! 

*Click on the title of any upcoming event for more information or to register!*
Quick Links:
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Center for Community Partnerships

Mentor Kenosha & Racine

Mentor Application

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*Click on the icon to be automatically directed to Mentor Kenosha & Racine's social media sites!*
Mentor Kenosha & Racine Staff:


Mark Gesner 

Director of Community Development 

(262) 595-2635 


Crista Kruse
Manager of Mentor Kenosha & Racine
(262) 595-2604

Julio Escobedo
Research & Evaluation
(262) 595-2620

Lauren Devine headshot
Lauren Devine
Community Liaison
(262) 595-2652

David Power
RUSD Mentor Coordinator
(262) 939-1671

Chris Fisher
KUSD Mentor Coordinator

Rachelle Little
KUSD Mentor Coordinator
Thanks to our supporting partners:
The Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention

United Way logo

We're excited to announce the Mentoring Certificate Program! If you are a mentoring professional looking for an excellent learning opportunity to increase your skill level and to design a stronger mentoring program, you'll want to check this certificate program out. Class size is limited, so reserve your place right away! See "Upcoming Events" for more details.

Do you have spring fever? We sure do at Mentor Kenosha & Racine! Get outside with your mentee and teach them the importance of staying active. Enjoy this month's newsletter, featuring a mentor's story as well as how to deal with a particular sticky situation with your mentee.

Meet KUSD's New Mentor Coordinators 


Kenosha Unified School District recently welcomed two new mentor coordinators, Chris Fisher and Rachelle Little, to help facilitate matching the youth in the district with mentors. Crista Kruse said, "The coordinators will help to expedite the matching process. There is such a great need for mentors out there, and we wouldn't want to lose them due to a lengthy match process. We are lucky to have David Power in RUSD to help support the process, and now we are thrilled to have Rachelle and Chris in Kenosha joining the mentoring initiative." 


Chris and Rachelle are together spending at least forty hours per week doing everything they can to help make a difference in the lives of Kenosha youth. The list of youth who need mentors is growing exponentially, so Chris and Rachelle have been mentoring the youth themselves until they can find mentors for them. We ask that you spread the word about the importance of mentoring so we can do everything we can to minimize the list and get more kids connected with mentors!  

Meet a Mentor: Gary Cotton Makes a Difference 

Written by David Power, RUSD Mentor Coordinator


Gary Cotton is a Racine resident, born and raised here.  He attended Park High School, and he then went on to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he earned degrees in organizational and interpersonal communications, and radio and television broadcasting.  After graduation Gary returned to Racine to begin his career in community service in 1989.  Currently Gary is the Human Resource Director for the Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency, Inc., and he also works at OIC (Opportunities Industrial Center).  In addition, he is a an assistant basketball coach at Park High School, a position he has held for 22 years, where he has had the opportunity to positively influence the lives of many young men.  


You would think that this busy guy has no spare time, but Gary sees a need in Racine beyond his involvement in his jobs and as a basketball coach.  He states that "sixteen and seventeen year olds' values and morals are pretty much set, and it is almost too late to change kids at that age."  He believes in prevention as opposed to intervention-involvement with kids in the middle schools to help prevent some of the at-risk behaviors that, if not confronted, lead to intervention by authorities to control those behaviors.  Gary prefers to help students learn to cope with their issues rather than see them involved with the justice system. "We can either help kids now or pay for them later," he says.   In addition, Gary's boss embraces the concept of mentoring youth and supports Gary's efforts.  The mentoring doesn't take that much time-about an hour a week at his mentee's school.


When Gary first agreed to become a mentor, he was a little nervous.  He didn't know much about his mentee, wasn't sure how the boy would react to him, or if the two of them would "click."  In spite of his reservations Gary accepted the challenge. This is his community, and he felt a responsibility to help, a value he developed because "that is how he was raised."   As the relationship has developed, the trust has grown between Gary and his mentee.  In addition, because he has made the effort to also engage the parent, he has gained her trust and support as well.

Gary's mentee is an African-American male who, surprisingly, did not have an African-American role model in his life.  The mentor relationship with Gary has provided the young man with that positive role model "who looks like him," someone who is willing to listen to him, someone who cares about his well-being, someone whom he can depend on being there.  The mentee is excited to share his triumphs and problems with Gary.  The trust that Gary is building goes a long way to developing respect and responsibility in his mentee, skills that he will need in his future.


What Gary gains from the relationship, besides a friend, is an opportunity to provide leadership.  Gary sees his mentee's growth in trust, respect, and development of social skills.  Gary recognizes the need to work with youth, and he is personally gratified by the progress he has seen in his mentee.  He knows that he is having a positive effect in the lives of his mentee and his family, and it feels good!


Gary had a recent session with his mentee where a few other boys were "eyeing" the two of them, curious about what was going on.  Gary heard them asking his mentee about who Gary was-his daddy, or what, what they did in session, what he had on the paper Gary and he had worked on?   "A contract," the mentee answered, "to improve some of my behaviors so I can understand consequences."  The other boys were impressed, and asked if they could get a mentor.  This shows the ripple effect of quality mentoring-how it can influence positive behaviors, change lives, and make a difference in a community.


Gary is "glad to be a part of Mentor Kenosha & Racine and will continue" with mentoring. Gary provides the leadership, positive modeling, and social concern that are needed by so many young people, and Mentor Kenosha & Racine honors his commitment to his community.  


Think back over your own life to a person, or more than one person who has had a positive impact on your life. Consider how that person helped you become who you are today-influenced you to be a better person than you thought you could be, encouraged you to work hard or try something new.  You can do the same for someone else.  You can pay it forward.  You can get involved in this effort to improve our community.  Go to and click on "Be a Mentor." It will change the life of a child and will enrich your own.  Invest in the Future; Mentor a Child.


Are you a mentor? Do you know someone who is a mentor? Tell us the story and we will feature it in our newsletter! Please email 

Ask the Mentoring Expert    


JoAnn: I catch my mentee lying to me every once and a while. Some lies are quite elaborate, some are rather unimportant. I think she knows that I've caught on to some of her lies and she's afraid of what might happen. What should I do?



Dear JoAnn,


First and foremost, you're not alone. My very own mentee has lied to me about having a dog. She would tell me all about walking the puppy, giving it baths, going on family vacations with the dog she named "Nala." I had the opportunity to meet my mentee's family, and she clearly had some apprehension about it. She knew that if I met the family, I would find out that there was no dog. I asked her if there was something she wanted to tell me or if something was wrong at home. She said, "I want to tell you something, but I'm afraid you won't like me anymore." I assured her that there was nothing she could do or say that would make stop liking her. That was when she admitted that she didn't have a dog, and instantly we felt closer. She finally felt like she could tell me anything, and that it wouldn't affect the closeness of our relationship. My suggestion is to do the same: assure your mentee that nothing that they say or do will adversely affect the relationship, and make them feel comfortable about coming forward. Maybe tell them a lie you told your parents when you were growing up, and then ask them if they've ever told a lie. Knowing that you've done it before, coupled with the assurance that they are free to come forward without negative consequences will mean that they will feel more comfortable about admitting their wrongs. To prevent a lie in the future, let them know that they can tell you anything and you won't pass judgments. You are there as a friend after all!



Do you have a question you'd like to ask the mentoring expert? Email today!

Mentoring Tips & Tools   


Inspirational Quote of the Month  


"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill
Thank you for taking the time to read our monthly newsletter. Keep an eye out for next month's edition of The Mentoring Messenger.

Is there something about mentoring you want to know and we're not covering? Email and we will do our best to answer your questions.

Mentor Kenosha & Racine


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