When people get into a chair at the barber shop or beauty parlor they often feel relaxed enough to share their thoughts and feelings on issues. A local program is hoping to tap into that barber shop conversation and use it to recruit mentors.
Omaha Public Schools, Midlands Mentoring Partnership (MMP) and the Empowerment Network are looking for male mentors as part of the MMP Intentional Mentoring Project. The effort works to partner African American, 6th grade boys with male mentors.
"They really focused on 6th grade because that's the time they're making that transition to middle school, and there's so much research that shows that is the time and the age where we know our youth can either go the right way or the wrong way," said Danita Webb who is the OPS mentoring specialist.
They are specifically working to help young boys in the Village Zone which is an area of northeast Omaha that has the highest crime rate per capita and some of the highest poverty rates in the state.
"While we have the youth available and youth are wanting this mentorship it's just difficult to find mentors," said Webb. She said it's specifically tough to find male mentors.
That's why they went to about five area barber shops, including Classic Barbershop at 99th and Ruggles. They asked the shop owners to keep an eye out for men who might be a good fit as mentors. They barber shop effort just started this spring, and they've already found a mentor this way. They hope others will sign up and see the difference they can make in the life of a young person.
MMP is also sponsoring a free haircut for men who become mentors through their barber shop.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, contact Midlands Mentoring Partnership. They work with many agencies to find the best fit for potential mentors.