Mentors change lives one child at a time

LightHouse_01_2013_007Every child needs a cheerleader.

Dr. Rosario Riel-Romero, a pediatric neurologist, said her years of practice confirmed that statement. So about 18 months ago, she did something about it.

She became a mentor.

“I enjoy working with him and I like to think he enjoys working with me,” she said. “I think if somebody is there for him aside from his immediate family it will benefit him.”

More than three-quarters of our LightHouse kids live with a single parent, and they could all use some positive reinforcement. Mentor coordinator Saundra Raines is revamping the program and is seeking anyone willing to give some time to a child.

Once a week or so Riel-Romera meets Caleb, a smart 8-year-old, with wide eyes, who regularly attends the Highland LightHouse.

She approaches her relationship similar to raising her own children, who are now in college. They go to the symphony, tour museums, and occasionally eat at McDonalds. Riel-Romero checks on his schoolwork and constantly emphasizes the value of education.

“I see a lot of potential in him,” she said. “I enjoy working with him and I like to think he enjoys working with me.”

Being a mentor does not mean you have all the answers, but that you are willing to support and guide a child as you search together.

The only requirements for mentors is they are over 18 years old, with a clean background check. And we ask that they spend one hour a week with your child and to commit to the program for a year.

“I understand there are fears with time,” Riel-Romero said. “But I think one has to extend oneself beyond one’s comfort zone and reach our and try to make a difference however small.”

If you are interested in volunteering, visit the Mentor page to learn more about the application process or contact Raines at


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