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Eitmann setting positive example

By DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / September 21, 1998

LULING – Marty Eitmann of Luling believes you can have a positive impact on young people by example. And he practices what he preaches.”Sometimes you see a kid who’s in trouble and acting bad, maybe he’s never been told his behavior is wrong,” Eitmann said. “Sometimes just byyour mannerisms or your actions, you’ll see kids drop some bad habits and pick up good things that you show them.”For his efforts as volunteer mentor for J. B. Martin Middle School’s HelpOne Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program, Eitmann has been named one of 21 nominees for BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana’s 1998 Angel Award.

Gwen Hitt, J. B. Martin’s HOSTS coordinator, nominated him for his workwith an at-risk student during the 1997-98 school year.

Hitt said Eitmann was hesitant at first about taking on the task of mentoring, but with the encouragement of his wife Melinda, a preschool teacher at Sonshine Preschool in Luling, he agreed to try it out as a team with Melinda as a backup. It worked well.Eitmann was paired with a student who had recently moved to St. CharlesParish and was having some trouble adjusting to a new school academically as well as socially.

“Since Marty seemed to be upbeat and friendly during the mentor training sessions, I decided to place him with Corey,” said Hitt. “I thought Marty’spositive attitude would be a good influence on Corey. I could never havemade a better decision. Corey immediately responded to Marty, and agenuine friendship blossomed.”Eitmann had to rearrange his life a little to be able to participate in the 45-minute a week sessions held during the school day. Since he works byCXY Chemical Co., he had to get permission from his supervisor to leavework once a week to mentor Corey.

But Eitmann went above and beyond the call of duty. Besides faithfullyattending all his own mentoring sessions, he recruited another volunteer from his company to participate in the HOSTS program and arranged for an entire class of students to tour his company. The students were treated tolunch and left with gifts which served as a reminder to the students of their experience at the plant. Hitt said the students talked about their tripfor the rest of the school year.

In the beginning, Corey called Eitmann every night asking for help with every problem assigned for homework. Marty eventually helped Corey gainconfidence in his own ability to complete the homework assignments on his own. Corey not only passed his eighth grade pre-algebra, but he alsoimproved his entire attitude toward school.

Eitmann has three children of his own: Daniel,19, a freshman at Loyola; Phillip, 14, a freshman at Hahnville High School, and Adam, 12. He saysseeing his children’s interests and needs got him started volunteering, serving as a Cub Scout leader, a baseball coach for the St. CharlesRecreation Department and a member of the Hahnville High School Band Booster Club. He will begin another year as a HOSTS mentor later thismonth.

Hitt said Eitmann reminds her of the story of the little boy who was throwing starfish back into the water as he walked along the beach. Anadult told the youngster he was working in vain since he couldn’t possibly save all the starfish on the beach. The little boy picked up one starfish,threw it in the water and said, “It will make a difference to this starfish.”Hitt said, “Perhaps Marty Eitmann did not touch the lives of a vast number of at-risk students, but he definitely did make a difference in Corey’s life.”The BlueCross Blue Shield’s Angel Award is now in its fourth year. It wasestablished to honor residents of Louisiana who devote their time, talents and personal efforts to bettering the lives of children. The winner’sdesignated charity will receive a $10,000 grant. Each regional finalistwill receive a grant of $2,500 to donate to the charity of his or her choice.

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