The speaker at the March 26, 2019, Norfolk Rotary Club meeting was Susie Buss, Teammates Chapter Coordinator. She talked about the Teammates program and brought several mentors and mentees with her to share their experiences in the program.


Several Norfolk Senior High School student mentees shared what they liked about being in the Teammates program. Some of the comments were:


-learned to communicate with others.

-gained other life perspectives.

-bonded with teammate.

-learned to express self.

-has had someone to lean on during difficult times.

-has had someone to visit with during difficult times.

-made new friends.

-met new people

-pushed to do better in school.

-mentor has had mentee’s back.

-gained an adult perspective separate from parents.


The Senior Match presented this year was Dick Sheets (mentor) and Christian Cowling (mentee). Dick and Christian have been paired for the last six years. Christian is currently a senior at Norfolk Senior High School. When Dick was first paired with Christian, Christian was failing classes. Christian said that Dick has really helped him and has encouraged him in school. Christian has enjoyed the activities, such as going to Creatively Fired and the Nebraska spring football games. He will be attending Northeast Community College in the fall and will be majoring in drafting.


Dick was a Norfolk businessman from about 1981-1991. He moved back to Norfolk in 2012. Christian was Dick’s second mentee. He believes he has been a sounding board and has provided unconditional friendship to Christian. Christian’s mother passed away when Christian was only seven years old. Her death was a major setback in his life, and that was very important for him to share this with Dick. Dick said this relationship has been a growing process in character building. He has seen Christian expand his horizons.


Dick also serves on the Teammates Board of Directors with Susie. They continue to come up with different activities for the Teammates program. They encourage all mentees to be involved in extracurricular activities at school. In a typical year, 90-100 mentees are involved in the Norfolk chapter.


Teammates is a self-funded body with the exception of some funding it receives from United Way. However, this funding has been decreasing over the last several years. Dick recognized Rotarian Ron McKeever as being a great mentor and contributor to Teammates. The invitation was given to people to consider becoming a mentor. It can take about three months to be vetted by the program to ensure safety and security in the program. Susie then works to match mentors with mentees.


Currently, it takes about $900-$1,000 to sponsor a child. Fund drives also help to provide funding for Teammates.


Susie stated that the Norfolk chapter meets maybe one time over the summer. During the school year, a mentor is supposed to meet with his/her mentee at least 24 times. The meetings usually take place during lunch at school or during a study hall period. A mentor has to be at least 18 years old and will have to submit to a background check, child abuse check, and a reference check. The Norfolk chapter volunteers at Mercy Meals each year. The Norfolk chapter is always looking for mentors, but the current need is for two male mentors.


Susie mentioned that Teammates is expanding in the Midwest. It currently has 163 chapters with 9,500 mentor/mentee matches. Teammates was started in 1991 by Dr. Tom and Nancy Osborne. Norfolk was actually one of the pilot chapters.


Troy Weyhrich thanked the mentors and mentees for attending today’s Rotary meeting. He also presented Susie with a $500 check from the Norfolk Rotary Club to go to the Teammates program.