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Mentors worth mentioning

Official month spotlights them, lights path for others to follow

The rewards of being a mentor to a young person can be great, as in the case of Monique Ramirez (left), 16, and Juliette Moore, part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson.

The rewards of being a mentor to a young person can be great, as in the case of Monique Ramirez (left), 16, and Juliette Moore, part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson.

Who was your mentor?

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords credits Tucson businesswoman Dorothy Finley with providing her with the mentorship that helped lead her to Congress.

“As an experienced businesswoman, Dorothy provided me with invaluable support, advice and ideas,” Giffords said. “My interest in public service grew from my desire to emulate her compassionate and effective leadership.”

Armando Quiroz, head softball coach at Pima Community College, says his father and grandmother sit at the top of his list of mentors.

“His courage, sensitivity and love defines who I am today,” Quiroz said of his dad. “On April 12, he will turn 90 and I feel like I have been the luckiest person in the world to have my dad as my hero.”

Quiroz’s grandmother helped raise him and his brothers. “She never complained, and gave us love, discipline and support, which I still carry with me today,” he said. “Nana passed away at 90 in 1992, but there is not a day that goes by that I do not use some of the lessons she gave to me.”

January is National Mentoring Month, with Thursday designated as Thank Your Mentor Day.

“Every one of us remembers a neighbor, teacher, relative or friend whose time and attention had a positive impact on our lives,” said Hilda Oropeza Chihak, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson.

She offered ways to honor your mentor:

• Express your appreciation in a handwritten note, e-mail or phone call.

• Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the National Mentoring Month Web site, WhoMentored You.org.

• Become a mentor. Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for volunteers, with a special need for male volunteers, looking to be a caring adult in the life of a child. Or make a donation to the program. Call 624-2447 for more information.

Other organizations seeking mentors include the Tucson Urban League (791-9522) and Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson (573-3533).

According to independent research, children in Big Brothers Big Sisters are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be involved in violence, Oropeza Chihak said.

Many of the program’s mentors are students at the University of Arizona, she said, and many children come from families that have little experience with higher education.

“It lets them see what the possibilities are,” Oropeza Chihak said.

Thank Your Mentor Day is an initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health.

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