The Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, or "Stand By Me", as the program is commonly called, began in 1996 when current…More director Kathy Witkowicki was put in charge of some grant money at her children's school, Flowery Elementary. Fourteen years later, the program no longer runs out of an elementary school closet, but has a large office suite, a team of employees and mentor liasons in place at all of the area elementary schools.
"Stand By Me" seeks to place at-risk elementary school children with local mentors who develop relationships and spend quality time with the kids. Mentors are placed through a thorough screening process and are asked to make a commitment of several years (many mentors form lifelong relationships with their mentees).
According to the "Stand By Me" brochure, "a child with a mentor is 98 percent more likely to stay in school." The program also organizes events, classes, an annual barbecue and career seminars throughout the year. "Stand By Me" is always looking for new mentors and people who would like to support the program financially.