LINK Mentoring: A ministry to mentor at-risk children in Adams County
By Sherry Larson
defender of the people
Jude Endicott is from Adams County. After successful careers, she and her husband, Rob, moved to Winchester, Ohio. She doesn’t seem to have slowed down. Endicott is the Adams County LINK Mentoring Coordinator. She was always involved in volunteering her time and energies and spent time serving as a “big sister”. Although she performs various volunteer roles, Endicott has found her home at LINK.
Her involvement began when Randy Chandler of the Adams County Drug Coalition approached Endicott about becoming an after-school instructor for the Kid’s Club, which led to her running the Kid’s Club for North Adams. She volunteered at North Adams Elementary School and the hospital when COVID hit, and things came to a halt. Chandler then mentioned that he thought LINK would be a perfect fit for Endicott.
In the summer of 2013, Sheriff Kimmy Rogers brought together people from 12 churches to provide leadership and met with kids at the fairgrounds – they started “Boot Camp”. Rogers and Tina Lightcap developed the LINK mentorship program.
LINK is a Christian ministry that creates positive mentorship opportunities for Adams County youth who have been severely impacted by living in an environment where illegal drug use/abuse or other circumstances beyond their control . LINK is a not-for-profit organization governed by a board of directors, includes a mentorship training program and carries liability insurance. Board members come from different churches. The organization has no religious or political affiliation. Fees incurred include background check fees. They are currently working on securing a grant to help offset the running costs of the program, as LINK has relied solely on donations.
Endicott explains that she came on board in 2019, just before the pandemic, and they couldn’t move forward. Now they work with schools; Endicott said, “Richard Seas, Superintendent of the Adams County School District in Ohio Valley, has been phenomenal to work with in getting this program started.” Mr. Seas is on board and ready to go. Shane Young, who works with the courthouse, is involved and ready to begin. Jill Wright of the Children’s Home is also in favor of the project. It’s time to hire mentors.
The commitment is four hours per month. Mentors can spend more time if they wish, but four hours is the minimum. Endicott shares that it’s hard to have mentors who say, “Everyone’s life is extremely busy now, and I don’t dispute that.” But she doesn’t ask anyone to do something she hasn’t done and knows possible.
How do you become a mentor? Contact Endicott at (614) 266-0664 for an application. You must have a background check, but LINK covers the cost. They review applications and run a training program. The next step is to pair a mentor and a child – women with girls and men with boys. Couples or friends can frame together. Children will also have applications that a parent or guardian must sign. Endicott says, “Our goal is to reach children and make a difference.” She will be a liaison between mentors and mentees.
Endicott says, “It’s urgent – it’s our future. We’re talking about these kids growing up, and that’s the only life they know. It’s up to us to help these kids know they still have a choice, and LINK mentoring can be a viable channel to provide at-risk kids.” She continues, “Adams County is a good county and people help others. Once we launch it and put in place great mentors, people will say, “That’s worth four hours a month”, and it will continue to let our young people know that they have choices and a glimmer of hope.