posted August 7, 2009

Aaron Lawrence Honored as Volunteer Mentor

Aaron Lawrence, a Hope College junior from Grand Rapids, has been chosen to receive this month's "Senator's Award for Men in Mentoring" by State Senator Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland).

Lawrence, who has been a volunteer mentor with the "Heights of Hope" program in Holland Heights since the fall of his freshman year, will receive the award during a ceremony at Zeeland's Huizenga Park on Monday, Aug. 10.

Becky Midgley, a youth worker with "Heights of Hope," praised Lawrence for his consistent dedication, describing him as a model for others.  "We as the mentoring program are hiring him in the fall to recruit more mentors because he does such a good job with it," she said.

Midgley noted that the presentation was made at the park because it is a favorite place to go for Lawrence and the student he mentors.  The award consists of a framed certificate signed by Kuipers and Governor Jennifer Granholm, and a $50 gift card to the BoatWerks Restaurant courtesy of Paul Kuiper.  In addition, the award's recipients are listed on a plaque created by Superior Sports in Holland and on display in the restaurant's lobby.

Midgley noted that "Heights of Hope" was started three years ago by two Hope alumni and students working with AmeriCorps, Laura Hahnfeld '03 and Jon Van Wyngarden '09.  The program serves at-risk youth from kindergarten through 12th grade who live in the apartment neighborhood.  Midgley said that the program currently has 40 mentors, many of whom are Hope students, paired with youth - and that there are more youth hoping for mentors of their own.

Kuipers represents the 30th District, which includes all of Ottawa County as well as the City of Grandville and SpartaTownship in Kent County.  The Senator's Award for Men in Mentoring is intended to highlight the importance of mentoring by males in particular, since nationwide two thirds of all youth in need of mentors are male but only one third of mentors are male.  Kuipers presents it monthly to the programs, including "Heights of Hope," that are partnered with the Ottawa County Mentoring Collaborative, with each program able to identify one recipient per year.

Lawrence is a 2007 graduate of Forest Hills Central High School.  His activities at Hope have also included the student-organized Dance Marathon fund-raiser held on behalf of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital of Grand Rapids, the psychology and religion departmental clubs, and ultimate Frisbee.