Boys & Girls Club Blog

Great Futures Mentoring Program Match Uses STEM to Solve Issue with YMCA Lockers

As we are about to start a new school year, we are continuously looking at how we can help our Club members who need the most support and one of the best ways is through one on one mentorship.

We currently have 77 youth enrolled in the Great Futures Mentoring Program. We will be starting the 6th year of the program, and are excited to see how our mentees will grow in their lives at school, the Club and at home.

Mentors dedicate a minimum of 2 years (1 hour per week or 4 hours a month) to making a lasting impact in the lives of a particular youth. Mentor and mentee “matches” talk about grades and attendance in school, work on homework, discuss life at home and talk about future jobs and what career path their mentee might be interested in. Matches also have opportunities to explore different interests together such as STEM, arts and crafts, sports, and baking and cooking.

As the Director of Teen Services, I match mentors with mentees and I do my best to make sure each match has something in common in order for them to spark a connection. I have had the amazing opportunity to see numerous matches grow over the past 5 ½ years from when they were first introduced until now. We have a handful of matches who are still together. No matter how long a match has been together, their connection is special and lasting.

One of our current matches who has been together for about 2 years both have an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which is why they are paired together. Jaime, a mentor as well as an employee of Oshkosh Corporation, has brought many different projects for him and his mentee, Blaize, to work on together at the Club. Their most recent project came as a special request from the Downtown Oshkosh YMCA. The locks on the lockers at the YMCA have a piece that often falls off and gets lost. The YMCA learned that the Boys & Girls Club has a 3D printer and asked if we could help them print the piece that they needed in order to solve their issue.

Jaime was able to bring in the right tools to help Blaize measure precisely and design a piece on a computer and then print it on the Club’s 3D printer. After a few test prints, they had a model that would work and was very similar to the original. Next, they visited with the YMCA’s facilities manager and branch director to share what they had created. Blaize was able to fit the model into the lock but just needed to make a slight change to the prongs. You could see the excitement and achievement in both Blaize and Jaime’s faces. These are my favorite moments when a match is able to accomplish a goal.

Because they were able to accomplish this task, the facilities manager shared with them a new project they could tackle that is more complicated. Blaize and Jaime have started to work on the new 3D print project, and are excited to hopefully complete another project together and accomplish another goal.

This is just one example of what can be achieved through a common interest of a match. It’s a goal of this program that a mentee’s school attendance and grades improve, but most of all, I enjoy when kids can connect with adults through their passions and solve real life problems together that give mentees experiences that help them discover future possible careers.

There are currently 15 youth grades 6th-12th who are enrolled in the mentoring program and are waiting to be matched with a mentor. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or if you know of someone who would make a great mentor, please contact Carlea Liermann, Director of Teen Services at 920-233-1414 ext. 127 or