The Silverthorne Pulse The Silverthorne Pulse

Community News from the Heart of Summit County

Mountain Mentors Connect Hearts; 60 Kids Waiting

Published December 19, 2018

Mountain Mentor Linda Hrycaj and her mentee.
Photo credit: Linda Hrycaj

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if you’ve made a difference. And sometimes it takes a long time to see the fruits of your labor.

Those adages don’t hold true for volunteers with Summit County’s Mountain Mentors, a 30-year-old program that helps local youth. For more than a year, Silverthorne resident and mentor Linda Hrycaj has watched her 8-year-old mentee blossom and grow as they ride horses, volunteer at the animal shelter, cook meals and attend Mountain Mentor group events together.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to connect with kids,” Linda says. “Plus, it’s really a win-win situation. Being around these kids re-instills a childlike sense of awe.”

After a rigorous vetting process, Linda was paired with a mentee who comes from a loving family and shares her interests. Linda is quick to point out that her mentee’s mother and two brothers have been a very nice expansion in her own life — just one more bonus to a great experience.

“Lately we’ve spent time cooking together, and she brings the food she makes back home to her family,” says Linda. “We play math games with measurements — she’s quick as a whip. And I think the new skills she’s learned have really helped her come out of her shell.”

Linda and her mentee also take advantage of the generous discounts offered by local businesses. For example, the duo access the Silverthorne Recreation Center for free, many area restaurants offer discounts for program participants, and even the ski areas have options.

Along with the generous local businesses that support the program, volunteer mentors in Summit County invested 5,472 one-to-one hours in 2017 alone.

Linda, who moved to town in 1985 and raised a family here with her husband, has traveled the globe but keeps coming back home to Silverthorne. She feels lucky to live in such a beautiful place. But with her generous heart and passion for helping others, we think we’re lucky to have her as part of our community.  

Interested in becoming part of the program? There are currently about 60 youth on the waitlist, so please consider enriching your life and the community by volunteering today.