Frank Di Barardino

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January Spotlight: Frank Di Berardino, The Driving Force behind Rome’s Mentoring Program 

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story,” – Josh Shipp


Frank P. Di Berardino III, is being recognized this month for his work with the Rome City School District (RCSD) Mentoring Program. DiBerardino is an Advisory Council Member of the New York State Mentoring Program and the organizer of a local mentoring program that connects mentors in the Rome community with local students. (Currently the program is on hiatus because of the pandemic). 

“Frank was the driving force behind the program’s success,” said William K. Guglielmo, President of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce, who has played a major role in securing volunteer mentors from the community. “The one-on-one relationships that he was able to develop and maintain with 70+ volunteers who came from various backgrounds was truly remarkable. It started out as a much smaller group, yet each year afterward he was able to increase volunteer participation and involve more students. The way he recruited volunteer support from certain employers and various organizations was really quite impressive. Familiarizing the volunteers with the program, responding to their concerns, and organizing them into a cohesive group could not have been an easy task.  Clearly, it was a huge commitment on his part. He did it magnificently.  He laid a strong foundation for the continuation of the program,” said Guglielmo.  

What do you like the most about your work with the Mentoring Program, and how do you think it has changed children’s/volunteers’ lives? 

            There are several aspects of Rome’s mentoring program that are especially enjoyable and fulfilling for me: 

            • Working with the mentees (children in grades 4, 5, and 6) is so rewarding when you see how being paired with mentors transforms their lives for the better. Many of these students acquire social skills that they didn’t previously have, and their self-esteem and self-confidence are measurably enhanced. Strong bonds are created with their mentors – so much so that many of the mentees choose to return to the program for two or three more years. The weekly mentoring experience provides a solid foundation for the children in terms of their future growth and well-being. It is an experience that the children will never forget. 

            • Interacting with the mentors is a great privilege! Recruiting and working with adult volunteers who are willing to devote time each week during the school year to meet with their mentees in a school setting is a unique pleasure. I have seen mentors engage and connect so well with their mentees that by the end of the mentoring year, they have developed a wonderful relationship. We have been very fortunate that so many community residents are willing to devote their time and effort to help the kids. 

            • Working in partnership with such dedicated professionals of the Rome City School District and the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce is the magic behind the mentoring program! From the district’s administrative staff, to the faculty members who serve as mentoring site coordinators, to the staff and business members of the Rome Chamber, the community is well served by these dedicated individuals. Also, actively involved with assisting the mentoring program are our community partners such as the Eastern Air Defense Sector and the Air Force Research Laboratory, which proudly provide mentors from their workforce.Frank

            Simply put, the cooperative spirit and tireless devotion of educators, the business community, and local residents have made the Rome mentoring program what it is: a highly successful program that gives children hope for the future and makes a positive difference in their lives. Moreover, it is an exemplary model program for the rest of the state to emulate.