Keen rallies community for local youth support

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Jefferson County Mentorship Program Leadership David Keen, Judge David K. Overstreet, Safe Families Executive Director Christine Taulbee, CASA Executive Director Brenda Torres and CASA Children’s Advocate Sharon Terry

Recipient of the APRO Hall of Honor David Keen’s, public relations manager for Rent One, a 15-year affiliation with the Mentors 4 Kids program in southern Illinois recently ended as the organization lost funding for the area. Keen and several leading people and organizations are coming together to reach out to the community to help local youth by filling the void with the new Jefferson County Mentorship Program.

“There are a lot of needs for foster kids and mentors,” says Keen, former Mt. Vernon mayor and program organizer. “A lot of children go to school and come home to watch their parents take drugs or suffer some form of violence, or they don’t have food. They don’t know a normal life.

A breakfast to discuss the program and the various needs of the community will be held from 7:30 am to 8:30 am on April 8 at Rare Chop House in Mt. Vernon, IL. Speakers at the event will include the Jefferson County Presidency Judge Jo Beth Weber, judge of the Illinois Court of Appeal David K. Overstreet, and APRO Fellow Javontay moss, who grew up being mentored by Keen since the age of five.

“The program has allowed me to have a positive male influence in my life that I didn’t have before,” shares Moss, who currently attends Southern Indiana University and studies communications and social services. “It had a direct influence on where I am now.”

The new program will adopt many of the procedures and a framework that the old Mentors 4 Kids organization had, but with a direct focus on Jefferson County youth. The new program is looking for mentors to take time each week to help guide children who need a positive influence in their lives. Information on how the community can get involved with various organizations will be presented at the event and will include Angel’s Cove, CASA, Safe Families for Children and Spero Family Services.

“We know this program is absolutely necessary,” says Keen. “We are entering this meeting to formulate a plan and get the ball rolling. “

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