Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 01-13-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JANUARY 13-19, 2021 PAWTUCKET 7 noting that a crux of the program is being able to go out and do fun things in the community. That said, "the matches have done all kinds of things to stay connected." Kelley Sontag, of Plainville, Mass., who has mentored Khloe Kenerson, 12, of Woonsocket, since June of 2018 said that staying connected dur- ing the pandemic was a rough transi- tion at first, but they've been able to video chat, text, and find creative things to do, including a virtual spa night. "It's been very positive for her," said Sarah Wilbur, Kenerson's mom, adding that Sontag has been a strong female role model for her daughter. "Kelley has been phenomenal with her." Kenerson said that Sontag helps her with her homework and that they do fun things together. "I think other people should (mentor) because it gives you a compatible friend to be with," she said. "They're a lot of fun to be around, and they're really, really nice. I just love Kelley so much." Sontag said she thought joining BBBSRI would be a huge time com- mitment "but it's so easy," she said. The organization "does a really good job at matching you up. We have a lot of the same interests." Before the pandemic, the two would meet in person for events such as painting, hikes, a Patriots preseason game, an Ed Sheeran concert, and more, she said. "I think that mentoring is impor- tant," she said. "(Kenerson) does have a great family, but I think it's really helpful to have someone who is an impartial person to talk to. It's been great to see her become more independent. … That's been really gratifying." "I encourage people to jump into it and do it," she added. "It's just been such a fantastic experience." Jonathan Burns, of Cumberland, whose Little is 13-year-old Joshua Pierre Toussaint, of Woonsocket, agreed that being a mentor is a great opportunity and it's not as hard of a commitment as people may think. The two have been matched since November of 2018. Burns said the Big Brothers Big Sisters motto of "if we can see it, we can be it" is a major reason he became involved in the organization. Showing kids what opportunities exist for them in terms of education and careers is important. "There are certainly circles I've seen in my 20 years (of working) where people like Josh get frozen out," he said. "I'm not saying Josh needs to go into corporate America but he needs to know that that's a possibility. … I want him to be aware of some of the good jobs that are out there." Pierre Toussaint, he said, is a great kid and not a handful, which is what he expected when he joined the pro- gram, adding that mentors have the opportunity to make their mentees' lives better and vice versa. Pierre Toussaint said it's nice hav- ing Burns as a mentor because "if I have a problem I know I can come to him." Burns provides extra support if he doesn't feel comfort- able telling his mom something, he added. Before the pandemic, Burns said he and Pierre Toussaint went to museums and ballgames but have had to switch to FaceTime calls, playing online video games, and having breakfast over Zoom once a month. Carine Saint Felix, Pierre Toussaint's mom, said she loves the program and wishes her son joined sooner. "Having that support (from Burns) really helps him a lot. … He has completely turned around." The single mother said having an adult man he can talk to has made a difference in her son's life and added that it helped her when she was too busy to take her son to basketball games or other events. She said she encourages more people to mentor, saying that it can change somebody's life. "I know that it has changed my life," she said. For more information or to get involved, visit www.bigsri.org . MENTORS From Page 5 JONATHAN BURNS, of Cumberland, and his men- tee JOSHUA PIERRE TOUSSAINT, of Woonsocket, at the Boston Museum of Science pre- pandemic. Dining Guide Since1932 HOURS: MONDAY-THURSDAY 11 a.m - 8 p.m. FRIDAY & SATURDAY 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. CLOSED SUNDAY MONday-Saturday 6 Stanley Burgers & 1 Large Fry $ 9.99 plus tax 6 Stanley Burgers 89 yearS StrONg! Thank you for your continued support in 2020! We Wish you a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year! 535 Dexter Street, Central Falls, RI Dine-In or Take-Out! Call Ahead 726-9689

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