PEN OR PENCIL Mentor Recruitment Initiative will be held at the National Night Out event.


The Pine Bluff Police Department will host National Night Out at the Pine Bluff Convention Center from 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6. The free public event will include games and prizes for children, door prizes, live music, public awareness booths, hot dogs, hamburgers and other refreshments, according to a police department news release.


Pine Bluff Interested Citizens for Voter Registration (PBICVR) announces plans to recruit volunteers at the event.


During National Night Out, PBICVR TenPoint PEN OR PENCIL Expansion Initiative and Pine Bluff CARES Mentoring Movement will recruit mentors for the upcoming school year. Volunteers may sign up at this event. Mentors will be trained using the PEN OR PENCIL curriculum in all school districts in the city, according to a PBICVR news release.


“This school year, there is a need to have more mentors present on campus in classrooms to increase academic and reading skills,” said the Rev. Jesse C. Turner, PBICVR executive director, president of Pine Bluff Faith Community Coalition Ministerial Alliance, and co-lead of Pine Bluff TenPoint.


“A presence on campus can make a big difference when students arrive at school, a presence during lunch periods and when students catch their afternoon bus home,” he said.


He also called for grandparents to adopt a bus stop near them to help prevent bullying and violence.


“Mentors are needed to help change the culture on campuses and to increase public safety. Youngsters need to know, we care and we are there for them, to improve their self behavior, self control and academics,” Turner said.


All potential mentors will be required to complete a mentor application and receive a background check from the National Alliance of Faith and Justice Pine Bluff affiliate prior to deployment in the Public Schools in Pine Bluff.


The Rev. Larry C. Battles is co-lead of the Pine Bluff TenPoint PEN OR PENCIL Expansion Initiative.


“POP training is continuous, and is the cement which holds together a bridge that connects a dream to its reality for our PEN OR PENCIL™ POP students,” Battles said. “We expect to capture many persons from businesses, social and civic organizations, sororities, fraternities, city departments, fire and police, retired teachers and churches willing to serve as mentor volunteers in the public schools of Pine Bluff.”


The program targets youngsters in grades 6th through 12th grades to promote critical thinking and life skill development, according to the release.


Those interested in mentoring, should email pbicvr@aol.com or call 870-730-1131.