Volunteers help students ASPIRE a better life through continued learning

Learn why these adults volunteer to help high school kids discover their career and higher education goals. When you read this, you, too, may choose to give an hour a week to help out …

New ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack helps Parkrose High senior Christian Harrison sort out educational options.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Christian Harrison is a bright-eyed, ambitious senior at Parkrose High School who sees a future for herself in fashion merchandising.

“I’d like to learn the fashion business,” Harrison tells us. “I want to go to college and get an education.”

Harrison says preparing for life after high school would be a more difficult without the help of her ASPIRE counselor. “It’s good to have someone there to give opinions, and help you sort through the forms and decide on options.”

Helping Harrison fulfill her aspirations is Parkrose ASPIRE counselor Bethe Mack.

“I remember how overwhelming it can be,” Mack tells us, “when you are young, and thinking about what to do after high school. It would have been nice to have an ASPIRE counselor when I was thinking about college and trying to deciding what to do.”

Although Mack only volunteers one hour per week, she says “It’s really fun. It feels good to hang out with, and help, young people.”

Jim Lipscomb, seen here helping Adrian Altanirano, has assisted many students to better prepare for their future after they leave Parkrose High.

Loves working with kids
Another ASPIRE volunteer, Jim Lipscomb, has been with the program for three years. “I’m helping eleven students now,” he says, “and I take on two more next week.”

We ask Lipscomb why he is an ASPIRE counselor.

“The ASPIRE program is set up to make it easy for adult volunteers to help kids find more success in life. I get as much out of the program as do my students,” Lipscomb says.

No experience needed
What is ASPIRE? It’s an acronym, standing for “ASsistance Programs In Reach of Everyone”.

We ask the program coordinator, Teena Ainslie, how an individual would know if they’d like being involved in the ASPIRE program.

“Ask yourself these questions,” Ainslie replies:

  • “Are concerned about the future workforce of our country?
  • “Will you give a little yourself to help improve a young person’s entire life by helping them get a great career?
  • “Can you spend as little as an hour per week with students?”

If you answer “yes“, Ainslie wants to hear from you.

“First of all,” she tells us, “no experience is necessary. We provide all training and coaching materials. Your training time is adapted to fit around your schedule.”

The more ASPIRE “College Coaches” they have, Ainslie continues, the more students will be helped to the next phase of their lives. “Whether planning for college, a trade or technical school, or other higher learning, we help young people move into the life-long learning program of their choice.”

Learn more
Ainslie asks you not to wait. “There is still time to help this year’s high school seniors ‚Äì we have more students than counselors.”

Call Ainslie today at (503) 408-2642, or Meg Kilmer at (503) 408-2681, to learn more about this great volunteer opportunity.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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