When Emmalee, a young girl living in Montrose County, was paired with a retired school teacher named Patty in Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ouray’s mentorship program, she had no idea the impact that simple partnership would have on her life. Part of Patty’s time as a mentor with Emmalee was spent practicing for the school spelling bee coming up that year, a competition Emmalee had her sights set on winning. However as they began to hit it off, Emmalee’s mother was fighting her own battle against addiction, failing several drug tests that put Emmalee’s custody in jeopardy. Emmalee learned to lean on Patty as their relationship grew deeper, and looked to her as a source of stability in this time of uncertainty. Patty even began the process to become an approved foster mother for Emmalee in the event that her mother did lose custody.
Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ouray aims to increase self-esteem and self-efficacy, to increase school commitment and school bonding, to improve peer and adult relationships, to decrease delinquency, to instill a sense of the future, and to delay initiation or decrease alcohol and/or substance abuse experimentation. Programs like the Partners Mentoring Services have changed lives, with over 95 children partnered with individual mentors during 2015. Beyond that, Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ouray implemented a marijuana education outreach campaign, and offered monthly social/recreational activities for participants in the program. By the end of 2015, volunteer mentors served more than 8,000 direct service hours for the program.
Thankfully, today Emmalee’s mother has overcome her drug habit, remained a part of Emmalee’s life and kept her out of the foster care system. Patty remains a guiding force for Emmalee, and through their hard work and loving relationship, Patty and Emmalee studied hard enough that Emmalee won the 2015 District Spelling Bee as a fifth grader, taking first place over thousands of competitors—many of them sixth and seventh graders. Emmalee and Patty’s story is only one of many at Partners of Delta, Montrose and Ouray. Their continued work in bettering youth throughout the San Juan region is a wonderful example of the positive impact hard work and dedication can have on young lives.