Mentoring program bridges Cougars with kids
Putting in over 550 hours of volunteer work at Texas Children’s Hospital was a decision that UH alumna Roxanna Leon did not regret.
Members of Cougars for Kids volunteer at local schools and hospitals to help kids in need. Now, the organization is partnering with the youth mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters so students can make a more personal impact on their community.
“Once I would get into the hospital and start my shift, seeing patients come into the playroom with a smile made my day,” Leon said. “Keeping in mind that some of these children had a harder day compared to me motivated me to keep going.”
Leon volunteers with the program every Friday.
“Class would get hard and dull,” Leon said. “Just reminding myself that I would be able to make a child happy would make me want to go more and volunteer.”
Jerry Evans, founder of Cougars for Kids, created the program in 2008 as a way for technology students to give back to their community. The program became so popular that any UH student, faculty member or alumni can join.
“Mentors are matched one on one with children within the community who are in need of a positive role model,” said Lois Nichols, assistant director of Cougars for Kids. “They go to their home and take them out to the park and ball games and bring them out into the community.”
Evans said that Cougars for Kids has become well-known throughout the Houston medical community and hospitals have been keen on recruiting its members.
Students interested in volunteering at local hospitals must be willing to commit to a full year of service and put in at least three hours a week. Evans said that the organization is looking for students willing to make a huge commitment.
“Our students have benefited by knowing that their volunteer service has been immensely helpful to many youngsters in both hospitals and schools,” Evans said. “When they do graduate from UH, they will be proud to list their volunteer service in Cougars for Kids on an application.”
Leon said that the volunteer program helps students develop good leadership and communication skills. The program also introduces members to different professionals that can later become their mentors.
Cougars for Kids is a volunteer program funded by the School of Technology. Interested students can attend orientation sessions available throughout the Fall and Spring semesters.
The first session will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Technology Annex Room 101.