Almost everyone has had a mentor, whether or not they know it. For some kids, a good mentor is hard to find, which is why American Licorice Company is working with the Slicer Champions mentorship program organized by the LaPorte Community School Corporation.
Slicer Champions began just a few years ago when a number of local businesses, including American Licorice Company, made large contributions to bring the program to life. The program recruits adults from around the La Porte area to mentor students needing guidance and support in La Porte schools. Once a mentor is matched with a student, they meet once a week to talk, have fun, and offer advice and stability.
“We try to invest in the happiness of the community, both the people and the environment,” said Della Lyle, Community Outreach/Sustainability advisor at American Licorice Company. “When our associates actively and regularly support local students, it not only benefits the community, but it helps bring joy and understanding to our associates, as well!”
Lyle is planning to join the program as a mentor next year. American Licorice makes it easy by offering 16 hours of paid volunteer time. Slicer Champions continues to grow, with just over 40 active mentors. A number of American Licorice associates are already mentors or have been in the past. Brian Lehr, the company’s e-commerce manager, has been mentoring the same boy for a couple years.
“I’m blessed with a mentee who, once he gets going, doesn’t have a problem sharing. It’s eye-opening. Some of these kids have been dealt a very difficult hand, but he’s grown so much in being able to handle the adversity in his life. Plus, I absolutely learn things from him," Lehr said. "I’m glad to be a part of a rare company that goes out of their way to be a part of the community like American Licorice.”
Kids who struggle with grades, attendance, discipline, or have any number of home issues are the prime focus of the Slicer Champions program. The organization is still young and collecting data, but seeing the positive response lets Slicer Champions organizers know they are making a difference.
“We’re not a tutoring program, it’s all about building a relationship and giving these kids the support they need,” said Bert Sappenfield, Slicer Champions Match Specialist. “Honestly, every child could use a mentor. We all have someone who’s impacted us positively throughout our lives. Having something like this program makes such a huge impact across the area because it’s helping kids graduate, grow-up, and become happy and productive members of the community.”
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