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      YMCA changing young lives

      Every week Christina Bennette and Savannah spend a couple of hours together having fun. They have only known each other for a month, even though it seems like a lot longer.

      "It's fun and stuff because we do stuff together. It's actually bonding with someone like a complete stranger. Then, it's like you are now friends and stuff," said Savannah Methner.

      They are part of the Reach and Rise mentor program. It's a national program, but the YMCA of Marquette county is the only one offering it in the state of Michigan.

      The YMCA brought the program here because of local need to help unserved kids. The relationship between the mentor and mentee gives kids emotional and social support.

      "We help youth that have been struggling in single parent homes to youth struggling with some mental health issues to youth on the verge of going into the Juvenile justice system," said Melissa DeMarse, program coordinator.

      Kids are matched with a mentor according to their gender, personalities, likes and dislikes. Christina and Savannah have learned they both enjoy art, and animals.

      Once paired together they create goals for the child to work toward. Savannah has her heart set on volunteering.

      "To be out more in the community. Like I like helping people and helping animals and stuff," Savannah said.

      A mentor is an outlet for the child who may be experiencing difficult times in their lives. It gives them a chance to vocalize their troubles, get help, and know they are not alone.

      "Savannah cracks me up. She's a good kid she's really smart. She always has all kinds of interesting facts she tells me," said Christina Bennett, mentor.

      The YMCA is looking for more people to become mentors for the program. Click here for more information.