By Jonathan Edwards
The end of the school year is noticeably marked by an abundance of activity for the state of Ohio and for businesses, teachers, and students alike. In the weeks leading up to schools letting out Memorial day week in the Tri-Village neighborhoods, the Trivillage Mentor League keeps moving forward with mentoring up to the last week of school. A beacon of light in the Tri-Village neighborhoods since July of 1994, the TVML is looking to celebrate 25 years next month and continues to grow in impacting the communities of Grandview, Marble Cliff, and Upper Arlington.
According to the Facebook page (TVML’s official web site is under construction), “TriVillage Mentor League is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that partners with high school student volunteers to organize and deliver after-school mentoring programs to elementary school children.” As a 501(c)(3) TVML is supported and run by volunteers and gathers weekly at Barrington Elementary in Upper Arlington and Stevenson Elementary in Grandview. The TVML mission is to provide mentoring-related experiences, education, and opportunities to school-age children, teens, and adult volunteers that promote well-being, leadership, and volunteerism in a community-supported setting.
The late John Miller and a group of motivated leaders came together to form this diversion program as an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1994 to address the need of connecting at-risk youth with mentors by providing an environment that cultivates relationship building. Throughout the last two and half decades the program grew to participate with organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Tim Hortons Foundation Camps.
While the look of the organization has developed over time, the core need of breaking children out of isolation and into community is still the same. “In our communities, there are kids that need this program,” says Joanne Taylor. Taylor, who joined the board in the early 2000s for a few years, stepped into the Director role in August 2018. She is an example of the consistency this program brings to the community.
Youth will typically be a part of the league for three to four years and the relationships they form can be life-changing. “Today where technology is king these kids are getting an hour a week of building relationships,” observes Taylor. And how can you connect these kids to building relationships? TVML addresses this by providing an environment free of screen time. Mentorship is structured at the two schools with a planned activity. Instead of field trips, they provide routine engaging and development based programs to encourage the growth of the participants. The volunteers and program are organized, Taylor says, to “take anyone and help them start a relationship with a kid. Someone is there with you to help you be successful. We want the mentors to have a good time and be engaged in a safe environment.” The mentorship program is focused on a big brother/big sister approach using students to mentor one another with the goal that one day the mentee will be the mentor. TVML “prepares these students for this program in the future.”
Students are cared for through TVML by activities that have tomorrow in mind. Pathways Financial Credit Union leads the group in creative activities focused on financial literacy. Guest speakers interact with the students to provide resources that impact their lives starting today.
Recently TVML received a $6000 grant from the Grandview/Marble Cliff Education Foundation covering the cost for the youth to write a book on Grandview Heights. Historians, a professional author, illustrators, and other community leaders were able to come in and assist with guiding the youth as they worked on this project. Publishing this August, the book will include original artwork and quotes from the students. This book is a tangible way that the generosity of the community resulted in a gift that will keep on giving.
In terms of supporting the youth, there are three fundraising events that TVML runs or participates in annually. The annual Bid & Benefit fundraiser is the flagship casual, community-oriented event held each November. Attendees can shop a large selection of silent auction items while enjoying appetizers, live music, and a cash bar. Attendees include those who benefitted and want to give back. Parents and alumni of the league often say, “I’m here and I want to support you because of the impact it is having on them.” This year’s Bid and Benefit will be at Our Lady of Victory in Marble Cliff on Friday, November 15th from 7-10pm.
The Live Rock Trivia has been around for a few years now and featured the Unoriginal Bastards the last two years. It was hosted this April at Woodlands Backyard. “Never played Live Rock Trivia before? It’s equal parts music trivia and live rock concert. All you need to do is bring your love for music, your willingness to support a good cause… and a group of friends! We’ll walk you through the rest!”
CYP Club has also partnered with TVML the last few years during the Grandview Hop. Sales at the beer garden will benefit the Tri-Village Mentor League during the first hop. Make sure to stop by and say hi on Saturday, June 29th! All of these events fit into the mission of TVML in giving back with all the proceeds benefitting scholarships and mentoring programs. The payoff is immediate as TVML is “based in these three communities and everything we raise goes back into the communities,” says Taylor.
One pronounced way the organization gives back to the community is through its scholarship program. Taylor reflected, “When we give out the scholarships…it is interesting to read that TVML has been one of the highlights of their experiences. It is so unique.” The league also looks to give back through focusing on refining the program as it seeks to expand in the future. The volunteer board continues to explore opportunities to empower the teenagers to become leaders by involving them in the training and mentoring process. In this way, TVML will continue to sow seeds as it leads today’s mentors in creating tomorrow’s mentors. This ripple effect will pave the way for no kids to fall through the gaps and be missed.
Curious to know more or want to be involved in giving back? Make sure to attend the Grandview Hop and support the cause at the Beer Garden or volunteer to work the event. Consider coming out to support the league during the Bid and Benefit in November, or mark your calendar for next year’s Live Rock Trivia in April!