REACH program

Making a Difference

In this picture, Carrol Colbert, Air Force Sustainment Center Operational Contracting Plans and Programs Support section chief, Robins Air Force Base, was a REACH mentor for Noreco Roberts. The two met again years later when Roberts was a senior at Albany State University. When Roberts was 8 years old and attending Pearl Stephens Elementary School, Colbert originally mentored as part of the Raising Educational Achievement of Children program in Houston County. (Courtesy photo)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

For 21 years, Carrol Colbert has invested an hour a week mentoring various primary and elementary school children through the Raising Educational Achievement of Children in Houston County mentoring program.

But, what a difference an hour can make.

Colbert, Plans and Programs Support section chief for the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Operational Contracting at Robins, experienced the return of that investment when she reconnected with a past mentee.

“Years ago, a young lady came up to me at church,” she said.  “She asked me if I knew who she was.  I indicated I didn’t.  She told me when she was 8 years old, I had mentored her at Pearl Stephens Elementary School.  She was all grown up.  She was a senior at Albany State University, doing well and she thanked me for the time I spent with her.”

That day, Colbert realized the reach she had.

REACH is a mentoring initiative that was established between Robins, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Houston County School System in 1997.

Currently, 72 mentors at Robins tutor at-risk children in local schools for one hour per week during the school and work day.

Renee Daughtry, Robins school liaison officer, said in addition to tutoring, the mentors become a role model and an important presence in the life of a student who needs someone to talk to and to be there for them during difficult times.

At its peak, the Robins program has had more than 130 mentors in more than two decades.

“There’s always a need for volunteers who are willing to take an hour out of their week to make a difference in the life of a child,” she said. “While the mentors focus on math and reading, they also provide the child with a role model who gives them praise and support to help them be successful in the classroom as well as in life.”

Daughtry said Robins and the Houston County School System have been blessed to have a great partnership, and the REACH Program is just one of many ways the Robins community steps up and volunteers in the area schools. 

“Being such a large school district with nearly 30,000 students, there’s always a need for volunteers in our schools who can be a role model and teach our students to believe they can grow up to become anything they want to be,” she said.

For Colbert, REACH has been an investment of a lifetime for her and those she has mentored, including one 8-year-old girl.

“That time helped her to pursue her dreams and helped to shape her into the person she is today,” Colbert said. “My heart is overjoyed.”