Make a Difference: Don Hatfield, the mentor

PARKE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – When 82-year-old Don Hatfield talks to kids these days, it’s with a passionate purpose.

Don is a mentor to Robbie, Seth and Lyle.

They are sixth graders at Rockville Elementary School.

All three boys needing an extra push to stay out of trouble and do the right thing.

“Most mentoring programs are more social…there’s no curriculum. This is a very structured curriculum. It’s a teaching situation,” Don said.

Five times a week, Don travels all over Parke County, meeting with boys as their mentor, teaching them about “The Talks” program.

Transferring a little knowledge systematically.

“I use to bully a kid cause he used to bully me”

“I got the program started in North and South Putnam. In Rockville, Parke County and in North Vermillion…and also Fountain Central. In the Wabash Valley, there’s well over 200 children being mentored in this program right now,” Don told us.

He introduced “The Talks” mentoring program first to Rockville Elementary School seven years ago.

Students are referred to him by teachers, counselors, and even family members.

Kids who are troubled or who get in trouble, needing that loving, compassionate person in their lives to help set them straight.

Some of the children he’s mentored told us why he’s made such a big impact.

“I use to bully a kid cause he used to bully me,” Robbie told us.

“I’ve learned self-discipline to do the right thing and how to behave,” Seth said.

“Anytime you can touch the life of a child, it’s tremendous!”

“It helps me calm down. In situations that I’d really want to hit something. I just think of this mentoring group to calm down,” Lyle said.

Don calls all three of these boys his sons.

He’s been mentoring them weekly since they were in the third grade.

He says he’ll stand by them, teaching them to do the right thing until they graduate high school.

Working in conjunction with local teachers, trying to change a child’s attitude to help them do better in the classroom and ultimately do better in life.

“Anytime you can touch the life of a child, it’s tremendous!” Don said.

The Talks program costs taxpayers absolutely nothing, it’s fully funded by community support.

Don says the Parke County Community supports the mentoring program with open arms.

Talks needs your help.

If you would like to volunteer, or learn more about the program you can call Don at (765) 592-7176 or Rockville Elemtary School at (765) 569-5363.

If you’d like to nominate someone for a Make a Difference Award, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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