Mentors make a difference in many lives

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Timber and Tonya Wood pose in Stagecoach on Thursday. The Woods both serve as mentors to at-risk children.

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Timber and Tonya Wood pose in Stagecoach on Thursday. The Woods both serve as mentors to at-risk children.

To Timber and Tonya Wood of Silver Springs, it's all about love and community.

The husband-and-wife team with a 20-month-old daughter take time out to be mentors to young people in need.

"For me, it's a friend thing," Timber said. "It's like being a parent, you get a lot of unconditional love from kids who just want to know that someone cares about them."

Tonya believes it takes a community to raise a child, and she's happy to do her share for a young girl in need.

"I feel like I'm doing my part to raise our future leaders," she said. "Silver Springs is a really poor area and it's hard for people out here to do the things they should do."

Mentors are desperately needed in Lyon County, and the Woods "are just wonderful people," said Roberta Metzger, mentor coordinator for the Central Lyon Youth Connection. They must undergo a background check and are given training. Men are especially needed, Metzger said.

"A mentor listens as a friend, not taking the place of a parent or teacher," she said. "Just an older, trusted friend."

Metzger said each mentor is paired with a youth - men are assigned to boys and women to girls - age 10 to 17, who often have a disrupted family life.

"The duties of a mentor are to support, guide and listen," Metzger said.

Timber was paired with a 13-year-old boy whose father is serving in the Middle East with the National Guard.

"He's a good kid, I really like him," said Timber. "We just talk about life."

Timber, who works for the Nevada Department of Transportation, said the two have played video games and just hung out.

With the boy moving to the Midwest with his family soon, Timber will lose his little buddy, but has the satisfaction of knowing he made a difference - to the boy and his family.

"He was even good for me," the mother said. "I could talk to him, therefore he could help my son deal with me, so he actually took in a whole family."

She added that she was very happy with the mentoring program.

"They matched (my son) up with a real gentleman, that had like interests," she said. "It gave him a male role model."

The woman is moving her family to another state to be closer to relatives while her husband is overseas, she said, adding her son didn't want to go at first because he would miss his mentor.

The girl Tonya mentors is a 15-year-old "typical teenager," she said.

"They go through all kinds of peer pressure at school and with friends," Tonya said. "Some kids have low self-esteem, they feel unwanted or rejected by family and they need to know that someone is out there for them."

Tonya, a stay-at-home mother, takes her charge out for pizza, they go shopping or talk. "You become friends with them," she said.

Tonya believes young people have big problems and often can't discuss issues they face with their parents or guardians.

"She can talk about boys, or anything, and I can give her the best I have to offer," Tonya said. "We're kind of like sisters, or friends."

The Woods got involved through their church, and found it to be a rewarding experience.

"To see someone else happy makes me happy," Timber said.

-- Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

Be a mentor

For information on being or having a mentor, call Lyon County Youth Connection at 246-0320.


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