Make a Lasting Impact: Be a Mentor

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Featured Slider, News | 0 comments

Make 2016 a Truly Meaningful Year — Mentor a Youth in Need

Mentoring at Hathaway-Sycamores

While losing weight or ditching bad habits are admirable New Year’s resolutions, they unquestionably are trumped by a resolution to: Give a child or teen hope for a happy future by becoming a mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month – an opportune time to step up and step into the life of a struggling youth served by Hathaway-Sycamores.

That’s precisely what Gary Moody did in 2015, and – in the year since – he and his now 18-year-old mentee have polished off more than their fair share of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Far more importantly, the two have forged a fundamental bond – a bond that this teen had never before experienced. As Gary explains, “He’s never had someone he could count on.” When Gary was matched with the high schooler through Hathaway-Sycamores’ residential treatment Mentoring Program, the teen had been living at our Altadena campus for a year, receiving therapeutic treatment for behavioral challenges and self-esteem issues. Although he’s now 64, Gary can relate to his mentee’s situation. “I came from a dysfunctional family and made some bad decisions. Fortunately,” he adds, “a couple of mentors helped me straighten out my life.”

Nationwide, 9-million kids need a trusted mentor to count on.

Nationwide, 9-million kids need a trusted mentor to count on.

Gary has been paying it forward ever since. “To create a relationship that can change a person’s life is a wonderful experience for both of you.” He emphasizes, though, that mentoring can’t be taken lightly. “Many of these kids have trust issues, so mentors need to be consistent and committed. If you say you’re going to do something,” he notes, “you’d better come through.”

Residential Treatment Program Manager Tasian Taylor concurs. “A mentor’s word means everything to these kids. If you say it, you have to do it.”

Staying in touch also is key. For Gary, that means calling his mentee two or three times each week, and spending at least an hour together four times per month. In-person interactions can take many forms. “My mentee likes to eat,” says Gary, “so we’ve done a lot of that. I’ve also taken him to Pasadena landmarks – like the Rose Bowl – and I’m going to schedule a tour of JPL.”

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.

Students who have mentors are more likely to stay in school.

Students who have mentors are more likely to stay in school.

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: punctual; good listener; patient; compassionate; friendly; outgoing; resourceful; problem solver; upbeat; and supportive. “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.”

Having a mentor empowers young people to make smart choices.

Having a mentor empowers young
people to make smart choices.

Gary Moody has certainly achieved that – and much more – with his mentee. “It’s been so rewarding,” he explains, “to see him evolve from someone focused on survival to a young man experiencing success. In the beginning, he was lost and didn’t know where he was going. Now, he’s looking forward to the next phase in his life.”

If you’d like to make a life-changing difference for a child or teen in Hathaway-Sycamores’ residential treatment program, please 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.

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