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NC Fire deputy fire marshal shows anyone can mentor with GANAS

Finding time to volunteer for a good cause can be difficult. Folks have to tend to their families, work, and social lives. However, that does not mean that it’s completely impossible to volunteer for a great cause.

Currently, GANAS (guide, advise, nurture and support) and TEEN (together everyone encourages neighbors)

GANAS is looking for volunteers to serve as mentors to youth in the community. One current volunteer, North County Fire Protection Fire deputy marshal Patty Koch, has found a way to balance a busy life, a personal life, and volunteering with GANAS.

“When Patty Koch comes each week in her uniform to mentor, the mentees rush over to talk with her,” said Pat Braendel, founder and president of GANAS. “Both boys and girls admire Patty!”

Koch said that she didn’t have a lot of experience in mentoring youth, nor did she know what to say to the youth she was set to mentor. However, she realized that she had similar interests as some, and that began the process of helping build connections between herself and the youth.

“I saw they were all looking to go to college, and as a female in the fire service, I gave them something to think about,” said Koch.

This is exactly what GANAS is about, said Braendel.

“These mentors give mentees hope, knowledge and inspiration to pursue the pathway for their own careers in the future,” said Koch. “Having different professionals from all walks of life, explaining to the mentees about their field of expertise seems to encourage and spark their imagination.”

Where female mentees might have not considered entering the medical field, they have been given something new to consider.

In addition, Koch found that mentees are happy to chat with her and other mentors once they see that they too have frustrations, hard days, and difficulties that they must go through.

“The core objective of the GANAS program is to guide and encourage mentees to make the right decisions leading to healthy lives and the benefits of making positive choices, all leading to productive lives,” said Braendel. “GANAS helps children develop leadership skills, guide them to achieve their maximum personal potential in life, encourage them to dream and to work towards an attainable future. Adult female and male mentors (current and past) who have been part of the GANAS & TEEN GANAS Mentoring Programs, have enriched the programs as they bring a wealth of positive life experiences.”

While it’s hard for Koch to attend every GANAS meeting, she is always happily received when she can attend.

“I’m always happy to see them,” said Koch. “I miss them when I’ve been away for a couple of weeks.”

Koch made it clear that this program is nothing like parenting.

“It’s more just a role of being a model, discussing about our days,” said Koch.

In order to be a GANAS mentor, individuals need to be over 18 years old. “All potential mentors are required to attend (free of charge) a scheduled mentor training session guided by Jerry Sherk, M.A.,” said Braendel. “An additional requirement is to successfully pass a fingerprint/background check with the Department of Justice, which the GANAS program pays for, also. A good mentor is expected to project a positive, engaging and encouraging attitude when working with mentees. It is important to be a very good listener and have lots of patience. We have had mentors from active/retired school teachers, engineers, military, physiologist, administrative business leaders to the best parents and grandparents ever, serving as great mentors.”

Those who are interested in becoming a mentor, can call Pat Braendel at (760) 731-9127. For new mentors who signed up at the mentor recruitment on Sept. 15, the GANAS & TEEN GANAS mentor training will be on Monday, Sept. 26, at Summer Ridge Apartments' Learning Center, 818 E. Alvarado Street, Fallbrook, from 6to 8:30 p.m. Food and beverages will be provided. The mentoring program begins on Sept. 27.


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