McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery was honored by the Great Plains LIFE Foundation for his assistance with the Stay 4 program. (Photo by Eric Stock/WJBC)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - The Stay 4 program that mentors at-risk youth is honoring McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery for his help in keeping kids in school.
The Great Plains LIFE Foundation presented a proclamation to Emery this week for helping to raise money and awareness for the program.
Stay 4 is run the Great Plains LIFE Foundation and it touts a 97-percent graduation rate. It has 92 students enrolled statewide this year and 24 in McLean County. Emery has helped raised money for the program which he said is a worthwhile investment.
"This program is overwhelmingly making a big difference within our community to keep kids in school and mentor them through their four years of high school," Emery said.
Funds raised by the foundation pay for $1,000 scholarships that each high school graduate can apply toward college or a trade school.
Great Plains spokeswoman Liz Skinner said Emery realizes the importance of keeping students in school.
"He understands that when kids drop out of high school a great many of them will end up in jail, "Skinner said.
Development Director for Great Life and McLean County Board member Paul Segobiano said the Stay 4 program gives young adults hope.
"One young lady said, 'I never thought something like this would happen to me.' I said, Don't every use that word 'never' because there's always an opportunity. We are there to put a soft hand on their back and make sure they have a future," Segobiano said.
Segobiano also commended the sheriff for helping one undocumented immigrant get legal papers so they can attend college, through President Obama's executive order issued in June.
"The information he provided us will not only help the current student but help students in the future. We are very grateful for his help," Segobiano said.
Skinner said the McLean County program selects 24 students each year. She said that number would grow if the foundation could raise more money.
Eric Stock can be reached at email@example.com.