Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park Retiree Finds Mentors Devoted to Kids; He Is First Coast Family Center's Mentoring Program Coordinator

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park Retiree Finds Mentors Devoted to Kids; He Is First Coast Family Center's Mentoring Program Coordinator

Article excerpt

Byline: CYNTHIA R. NELSON

Lynn Bankston ought to be retired but instead, the jovial 65-year-old grandfather of three spends several days each week matchmaking.

For more than eight years, the Orange Park resident has worked part-time for the First Coast Family Center as the coordinator of its Clay County First Coast Friends Mentoring Program. His primary job is to identify and manage volunteer mentors and then match them with at-risk children in the area, however, Bankston also serves as a mentor himself.

In January, Bankston was recognized for his commitment to mentoring when he received The TELEMachus Award for Superior Mentor Support from Kesler Mentoring Connection during its annual banquet.

The agency, created in 1998 to raise awareness about the benefits of mentoring, hosted more than 450 people at an event on January 30 to celebrate January as National Mentoring Month and bring attention to the valuable contributions of local individuals, businesses and community programs that support mentoring. Seven awards were presented.

"Lynn Bankston has been a constant champion for mentoring, facilitating many successful long-term matches between volunteers and mentors and going above the call of duty of his position at First Coast Families and has a tremendous following," said Cynthia Harpman, executive director of Kesler Mentoring Connection.

Fleming Island resident Marjorie Simpson agrees. A mentor in the community for more than a decade, who has been matched with almost as many children during that time, Simpson says Bankston is an affable man who everyone loves.

"Through my experiences with Mr. Bankston over the years, I have often pictured him in my mind as the Pied Piper of mentees and mentors," said Simpson. "He has a trail of both children mentees and adult mentors following him around seeking advice, asking for information, telling him stories, wanting encouragement, requesting assistance - you name it, he does it. …

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