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Strand Notebook | Children’s Mentoring Program benefit on tap to help kids who need role models

The Children’s Mentoring Program of Horry County is having its annual fundraiser at 7 p.m. July 30 at the Waccamaw Shrine Club in Conway.

The organization matches adult volunteer mentors to boys and girls living in single parent homes or with other family members.

Tickets to the fundraiser banquet are $100 and cover two steak dinners and a chance to win numerous door prizes, including cash prizes of $5,000 and $500, and five $100 prizes.

The organization, founded in 1989, is governed by a board of volunteers.

Since it started, Julius Derrick and his wife, Polly, who is my sister, have been its directors.

Sadly, Julius died in January. The program is strong and continuing, as he would have wanted.

The remainder of this column is from a conversation with Julius about the program in 2014.

“I never thought I would be doing this for this long,” he said.

Julius, a retired teacher and coach, knows personally the value of role models. After his mother died when he was about 7, and his father was incapable of taking care of him and his siblings, he and his younger sister went to Epworth Orphanage in Columbia, now Epworth Children’s Home.

They grew up there, and when Julius was offered football scholarships, he would not accept one unless the college offering his would give his sister a scholarship, too.

The University of South Carolina did that, and they both graduated from USC, where Julius was co-captain of the football team.

“If it had not been for role models for me, I would not have accomplished what I have,” Julius said.

Julius said that it is the mentors who make the program work. And when making a match, it’s not who came first, it is who is the best match for the child. Many things are considered when making the matches, including personalities and hobbies.

“I get as much happiness out of making a match with a good mentor as I did from winning a football game as a coach,” Julius said.

Julius and Polly’s children, their spouses and other family members, are actively involved in the program. “I’m happy that my whole family has been working with me,” Julius said.

Outstanding mentors of the year will be named at the banquet. Some mentors also serve on the board. Some have mentored several children over the years, and some remain involved in their adult lives.

The Children’s Mentoring Program only asks that a mentor spend an hour or two each week with the child they mentor, but many of them spend much more time than that with them.

The children also get to go in groups to local theaters and attractions that donate admission for them, and have an annual fun day together at Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

The Children’s Mentoring Program is a United Way agency, and Julius said it would not be possible to run it without the help of United Way.

The staff is small, with only four people working part time.

Monetary donations help in numerous ways.

Volunteer mentors must be 18 and are thoroughly checked. For more information or banquet tickets, to donate or volunteer, call 248-0164.

Contact PEGGY MISHOE at pegmish@sccoast.net or 365-3885.

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