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When Joe Dagrosa retired from his long career in education, he didn’t think he’d be near a classroom again so soon, but encouragement from fellow pickleball enthusiast and Guilford youth mentor Wendy Renz led him to investigate Guilford’s Youth Mentoring Program, and he was impressed. Now in his second year as a mentor at Guilford Lakes School, he regards his weekly commitment as an important part of his life.
“It gives me an opportunity to engage with a young person, and I’ve never lost sight of the fact that we each have a responsibility—no matter what our age—to give back even in a small way,” he said.
Dagrosa’s career spanned many years in the Hartford area, from working with at-risk youth to school administration, including 14 years as assistant principal at Maria Sanchez Elementary School. There he witnessed a retired insurance executive who “not only gave money to the school, but came to tutor kids himself. He was a role model to me for being involved.”
Being part of Guilford Youth Mentoring is thus a coming home of sorts for this active educator, who in addition to competitive pickleball enjoys cross-country skiing, kayaking, camping, and travel. He and his wife, Peggy Maier, moved to Guilford in 2002.
Dagrosa appreciates the philosophy behind the town’s school-based mentoring program, where adults provide a consistent and caring presence to a young person. The resulting relationship not only bolsters the child’s self-confidence as a worthwhile individual, but expands his or her sense of possibilities for their future. And, Dagrosa is quick to point out, the mentor gains from the relationship as well.
“People have to know when they’re giving of themselves to this kind of a program they definitely get something back,” he said. “That feeling of making a difference—you can’t buy that.”
Guilford Youth Mentoring currently has about 160 mentor pairs in all seven Guilford schools, but there is always a list of students waiting for a mentor and the program always needs more men. If you can see yourself mentoring or you’d like to help support our program, please call Guilford Youth Mentoring 203-453-2741 ext 7, email email@example.com, or visit www.guilfordmentoring.org.
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