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The Norwalk Mentor Program Introduces 'HEROES' To Students

Richard Collins, left, and his mentor, Dal Perio are still in touch today.
Richard Collins, left, and his mentor, Dal Perio are still in touch today. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. -- For students across the country, growing up can be a challenge in many different ways. Luckily, the Norwalk Mentor Program pairs students with adult volunteers. Often, a mentor is the only stable adult in a child’s life.

A program of the Human Services Council, the Norwalk Mentor Program was established in 1986. It is the longest-running and one of the most acclaimed school-based mentoring programs in the country. The program’s original premise remains constant today: matching students with positive adult role models to make a significant difference in the lives of those students served.

Richard Collins is an example of how giving back to the program can come full circle. Collins had a mentor through the Norwalk Mentor Program from third grade through sixth grade. Now, 15 years later, Collins has become a mentor in the program and wants to help a child grow and succeed, just like he did. “Having a mentor made a really big impact on my life," said Collins. “He taught me how to think outside the box and broaden my imagination. My mentor, Dal, introduced me to Harry Potter. I was around a lot of adults growing up, so I felt like I missed out on being a kid. Dal helped me learn to be a kid again."

Collins has recently reconnected with his former mentor, Dal to thank him for his help during his adolescent years. “Dal has given me advice on many things throughout the years," said Collins. "Recently, he gave me suggestions on activities to do with my mentee.”

In order to provide mentors to more students, the Norwalk Mentor Program established HEROES -- Helping Enrich Relationships of Every Student -- which allows donors to sponsor a mentor/mentee and be involved in a different way. “A HEROES sponsor can provide additional support, without the commitment of meeting a child once a week," said Nancy Pratt, director of the Norwalk Mentor Program. “It helps the program grow so that we can match more mentors with students”.

Consider becoming a HERO and making a difference in a child’s life, whether you're a company or an individual who wants to give back to the community. For more information, contact Julie Lewis at or 203-849-1111 x 3002 or visit