The Legacy Project of Stark Makes an imPACT

By Melissa Thompson on January 10, 2022

Who We Are

In 2015, The Legacy Project of Stark was founded by Eugene Lingenhoel. As he was delivering backpacks & school supplies at Lehman Middle School in Canton City, the principal, Jeanne McNeal, who is now the principal at Oakwood Middle School in Plain Local, asked Eugene if he would be willing to meet with some of her students.  Jeanne saw a need for her students to have a positive role model in their life and saw an opportunity to provide that for them. This opportunity to mentor middle schoolers changed the course of Eugene’s life and the lives of thousands of kids across Stark County.

As the program began to take shape Eugene and our Director of Community-Based Programming, Jenn Warner, began recruiting adult volunteers and creating a program so that they could reach more students in an intentional way. Creating an environment that would develop social emotional learning for the students in a relational way using the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets became the foundation of the organization.

The Legacy Project of Stark exists today to deliver small group mentoring between middle school students and members of their community. These community members volunteer their time each week and are the backbone of our program. Without these adults that live or work in the communities that we serve volunteering their time to mentor our youth, we would not exist and could not make a difference.

Social Emotional Learning

Let’s face it, we live in a stressful world. Our communities and our children are having to cope with emotional realities that cannot be ignored. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an organization that works toward integrating social-emotional learning for preschool through high school, “social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

Social and emotional learning consists of five categories that include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making skills.

Children spend 30+ hours each week in an academic setting. While social and emotional learning provides tools to help them understand how to cope with stress and foster an outlet for social interactions, The Legacy Project of Stark believes students from all walks of life can benefit from having our program as part of their academic curriculum.

Mentoring for an imPACT

A mentor is someone who teaches, provides guidance, encourages, and serves as a role model for their mentees. Mentors are the heroes of The Legacy Project of Stark.  They truly make an imPACT. They are:

Imaginative–While the Legacy Project of Stark provides content in weekly activities and talking points, our mentors use their imagination to make it the best fit for their group. This involves taking the time to get to know their group so that they can include their hobbies, passions, and goals into the conversation.

Mindful–Our mentors understand that imPACT groups are designed to be engaging for the students.  Students should want to be there because you are mindful of their thoughts and feelings.

Patient–Our mentors understand that students need to move around, be silly, and let out energy!  Not every conversation will last 45 minutes.

Adaptable–We accept middle school students for who they are and where they are at on any given day.  We adapt our conversations to meet students in the moment.

Consistent–Life happens!  We get that! While none of us can plan for emergencies, illnesses, or (fill in the blank), our mentors make impact groups a priority in their week.  Students need to know that they matter to you.

Trustworthy–Students know that they can rely on our mentors to show up, give good advice, and care about them.

School-Based Mentoring – imPACT Groups

That is why for the 2021-2022 school year The Legacy Project of Stark has partnered with 10 different school districts and are mentoring over 700 students across 17 buildings.

Our school-based mentoring, imPACT Groups, give students the opportunity to form positive, quality relationships with adults from their community. Each imPACT group consists of 2 adult mentors and 4 to 6 students. Small group mentoring occurs one time per week in the school during the school day throughout the school year, where mentors strive to provide students with a fun, casual environment that promotes a lot of talking, laughing, and positive engagement. To be participate in imPACT Groups students and mentors must agree to THE PACT.

Community-Based Mentoring – Remix Groups

REMIX is our community-based mentoring program that allows 4th-8th grade students the chance to redefine what it means to be a “normal” student in 2021. At REMIX students get the opportunity to try new things and put their passions to use helping others. Students also hear from leaders who are currently making a difference in their community and have overcome adversity, challenges, and setbacks. A typical Saturday includes fun games, meaningful conversations, and lots of hands-on activities for students to try.

The goal of REMIX is for students to learn skills and connect to resources that will help them to bring about POSITIVE change in their personal lives, schools, and neighborhoods. Each week students spend time with a consistent mentor who provides coaching, challenge, and lots of laughs. They have space to talk about the things that matter to them whether that be a video game or ending world hunger. We believe that every type of student is unstoppable when given the right mix of tools, connections, and encouragement.

The 708

The 708, serves as a home base for our community-based programs, the executive office for The Legacy Project as well as offices and program space for partnering non-profit organizations interested in bringing their services to Western Stark County. We envision The 708 as a community hub for events, programs, and more!

Our Beliefs

With the uncertainty of the recent pandemic, now more than ever, children need to learn specific tools that can help them understand their attitudes and how they can live their best lives possible. The Legacy Project of Stark believes every student needs a mentor to help them utilize these tools to help every one of them succeed. Through our mentors’ commitment to the kids within our program, we are able to promote resiliency and the skills they need to thrive. We are always in need of mentors to reach even more students and create new partnerships with more school districts because we are committed to impacting lives and transforming communities through the power of mentoring, leadership development, and intentional partnerships.

We truly believe every student needs a mentor!

For more information or to join us, please visit!

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