Change a Life – Mentor a Youth in Need
January is National Mentoring Month, the perfect time to give a child or teen hope for a happy future by becoming a mentor.
Many of the youth at our residential campus have never had someone they could count on. Through our Mentoring Program, some of the boys have been able to create life changing relationships, a wonderful experience for both mentors and mentees.
The commitment to the relationship between a mentor and mentee can’t be taken lightly. Many of these kids have trust issues, so mentors need to be consistent and reliable. According to Hathaway-Sycamores’ Residential Treatment Program Manager Tasian Taylor, “A mentor’s word means everything to these kids. If you say it, you have to do it.”
While one hour of face-to-face time is required weekly, Tasian points out that there’s no specific requirement regarding other means of staying in touch, such as phone calls, texts or emails. “The goal is to build a relationship,” she says, “so the more you communicate, the stronger that relationship is going to be.”
In addition to building a positive, personal relationship, the mentor’s role includes:
· establishing mutual trust and respect
· acting as a guide, advocate, and role model
· helping develop life skills
· sharing community, educational, and economic resources
· introducing new environments (e.g., mountains, beaches, workplaces, universities)
· increasing interpersonal skills
Tasian’s goal is to match every youth in residential treatment with a mentor. Her current need is for some 30 compassionate individuals who are willing to devote at least one year to making a positive difference in a child or teen’s life.
Mentors must be at least 21 years old, but no mentoring experience is needed, as the program provides both training and a support group. Mentors also receive comprehensive background information about their mentee. “Hathaway-Sycamores serves a special-needs population,” explains Tasian, “so mentors need to know that many of these kids have experienced significant trauma and may be contending with mental-health issues.”
That said, Tasian emphasizes, “These are normal kids who’ve been handed difficult challenges. Things that are taken for granted – like having a family and a natural support system – many of our residents just don’t have.”
Men and women of all ages and backgrounds are welcomed as potential mentors. Bilingual (English, Spanish) speakers are particularly in demand. Traits that Tasian is looking for in mentors include being:
· good listener
· problem solver
“Mentors can have a profound impact,” says Tasian. “The kids in our residential treatment program often feel abandoned and hopeless. A mentor can give them hope.”
If you’d like to make a life-changing difference for a child or teen in Hathaway-Sycamores’ residential treatment program, email or call Denise Larsen at (661) 713-8110.
Mentors also are needed for girls and boys – ages 12 to 16 – who receive services at Hathaway-Sycamores Highland Park Family Resource Center. The Center primarily serves at-risk youth who often are economically disadvantaged and dealing with family instability, self-esteem issues, and poor school performance. With the support of mentors, these youngsters and teens receive the consistent support and encouragement needed to help them navigate these challenges.
Yvonne Sarceda, who coordinates the Center’s Mentorship Program, welcomes male and female mentors willing to commit to a minimum of six months, preferably a year. This commitment includes a weekly in-person or by-phone connection with mentees, along with a monthly outing/activity. Yvonne is looking for mentors who are energetic, have good communication as well as listening skills, and who can relate to young people.
As Yvonne points out, “Mentors can have a tremendous, lifelong impact. They can help their mentee make good decisions and encourage them to be confident in who they are.” Adding, “This isn’t a paid position, so mentors must be motivated by the opportunity to better their mentees’ lives.”
Interested individuals should email or call Yvonne Sarceda at (323) 257-9600 ext. 7225.