There are several reasons why the Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP) had a large celebration on Saturday night.

The JUMP program celebrated its ninth year as a program by recognizing its 81 matches of adult mentors and young mentees at a banquet Saturday night at Wabash College. About 50 matches of mentors and mentees were able to attend the banquet and were honored through a small ceremony during the banquet.

JUMP, a program of the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, is a one-on-one mentoring program that matches adult volunteers with children ages 6-14 in the community who need an extra support, friend, and helping hand in their lives. In the nine years of the program's existence, JUMP has served hundreds of children. Some of the original matches made in 2005 are still meeting to this day even though the program only requires a one year time commitment to mentoring.

The annual banquet included a catered dinner from Bon Appetit and entertainment from the One Size Fits All Improv Comedy Troupe from Lafayette.

"We are blessed to have some of the most amazing volunteers in Montgomery County," JUMP Program Manager Jill Hampton said. "They weekly give their time to be a friend to a youth who need a friend in our community. We are glad we get to give back to them through this banquet."

Most mentors meet two hours a week with their mentees and simply have fun. It's through those times that a youth learns to trust the adult and look up to the adult as a trusted guide and friend who they can talk to. Mentoring works - several studies and surveys through the national Big Brother Big Sister program show that youth who are mentored for at least one year are less likely to do drugs, more likely to stay in school, and more than likely to stay out of trouble.

"Having a mentor is incredibly important to all of these children," Youth Service Bureau executive director Karen Branch said. One of the 40 Developmental Assets children need in order to succeed is having an adult person other than a parent or relative in their lives that they can look up to. JUMP provides that person for youth who need that caring adult to help guide them.

The JUMP program currently has several children waiting for a mentor in Montgomery County. If you are interested in becoming a mentor for one of these children, please contact Jill Hampton at 362-0694 ext. 12 or by e-mail at Volunteer mentors must be over 18 years of age and have a desire to be a difference for at least a year in the life of a local child. There is a short application, background checks, and an interview with program staff. After those requirements are completed, staff provide training on how to be a good and effective mentor and ongoing support for the mentor and the youth throughout their involvement in the program.