How Ira Sharfin promotes the mentoring of area youths

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award Finalist

Ira Sharfin
Continental Office Environments
(614) 262-5010 |

Ira Sharfin helped pioneer the Project Mentor program, which is a collaboration between the Columbus City Schools and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, in the Columbus area, and in its first year, he and his company, Continental Office Environments, enlisted 18 mentors in the program, which seeks to mentor students throughout the Columbus City School System.

That number reflects more than 20 percent of Sharfin’s in-office staff, which is one of the largest percentages of associate involvement in the program in the Columbus area — and additional staff members have joined the program in subsequent years.

In 2008, Continental Office Environments had the unique opportunity to host all of the company’s mentors and mentees from Mifflin International Middle School at the Ohio Governor’s Residence.

In addition to meeting then-Gov. Tom Strickland and his wife, the Continental team planned a special lunch that included educational activities and a tour of the residence grounds. Continental’s staff provided each child with a disposable camera to document the visit and take pictures with mentors and the governor.

After the event, Continental arranged for each student to receive a photo album with prints of his or her developed pictures, and a signature from the governor, as a keepsake.

This past year, Continental’s Project Mentor volunteer mentors saw the students in the inaugural class graduate from high school. It was a proud moment for Sharfin — who also serves as a mentor — and his staff, and it was a time to reflect on the tremendous relationships that have been created.