Because of my current condition (my due date is on Wednesday), I’ve been lucky to have some good friends help me out with the posts. This week, my friends Dave and Mary Jo shared their personal experience working with a local mentoring program.
Dave and I have been volunteering at Phoenix Youth at Risk for a little over a year now. There are several programs at Phoenix Youth at Risk…we are in the PALS program. This is very similar to a Big Brother/Big Sister program. We mentor a youth that has either been in a domestic violence situation or in a homeless shelter. The youth ages range from 5 to 15years. We went through an interview and training and then were matched with a youth that seemed like a good fit. I am currently mentoring a 7 year old girl named Jetta. Dave is mentoring an 11 year old boy named Eric. We sign a one year agreement to see our mentee once a week for a minimum of an hour. This is of course not always possible, but we do try to make an effort to see them as much as possible. And really once you get started it isn’t much of an effort! They are both great kids and many times I probably have more fun then they do! We try to do a variety of different activities with Jetta and Eric… we’ve gone to d-backs games, ice-skating, bowling, swimming, water parks and the library. Many times Phoenix Youth at Risk will have free tickets to different events. Jetta and I went to the play Annie and we all attended a D-back game and got some players’ autographs! The most important thing is building a relationship with your mentee and giving them the opportunity to perhaps see a different lifestyle. After a month, mentees are allowed to come to your house. Sometimes we will just bring the kids here to have dinner with us and walk the dogs. It is that simple and they love just spending time with you! If anyone wants more information, they can visit www.phoeonixyouthatrisk.org. You will find other ways to volunteer there. I don’t know if what we are doing has changed Jetta and Eric’s life, but it has certainly enriched ours.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring organization Mary Jo mentioned and depending on the location, multiple programs are offered. Here is a list of the types of programs your local BBBS may offer:
- Community Based Mentoring: (similar to what Mary Jo described)
- School Based Mentoring: meet at school
- Lunch Buddies Mentoring: paired during school lunch break once a week
- STARS: Bigs are matched with Littles who have an incarcerated parent or close family member (meet a couple of hours a few times a month)
- Step Up: teens involved in the court system are paired with positive adult role models
- Gear Up: Adult mentors are paired with high school students who are working toward graduating and becoming fist generation college students
(This information was found in the BBBS of Flagstaff newsletter)
My friend Brad, who writes the forum, “I’ve been talking to your kids” started an on-line mentoring program a few years back called, MentorE. It paired businesswomen/men up with at-risk youth and instead of meeting in person, the pairs would meet on-line. The program was successful while it lasted but unfortunately its funding was cut. I still think it was a fantastic idea and hope it will be reinstated one day.
How can we get involved?:
· If you’re local, check out www.phoenixyouthatrisk.org
· See if you have a local organization or a Big Brothers Big Sisters in your area. The website for BBBS is http://www.bbbs.org/
· If you are unable to commit the time, both organizations gladly take donations. Donations could be anything from movie tickets, to sporting events, clothes, restaurant gift cards, cash, etc.
“Do you need anybody? I just need someone to love. Could it be anybody? I want somebody to love...I get by with a little help from my friends.” ~The Beatles