Mentor One Child…Enrich Two Lives
Founded in 1975, the Friends Youth Mentoring Program provides boys and girls, ages 6-17, from Merrimack County with a mentor who serves as a positive role model and a supportive advocate. At the core of this healthy 1:1 relationship is the bond that is established. One parent, with three children in the program stated, “I’ve learned to ask for help, to trust in other people to share my children’s lives, and to appreciate kindness.”
Mentors, just by being themselves, provide a wider window to the world and help children gain perspective; access to opportunities and new learning beyond their immediate neighbourhoods. They are a dedicated group of individuals who care deeply about children and their communities. Their abilities and life experiences are great assets to a young person seeking an important, healthy, positive connection. Mentors encourage and celebrate successful outcomes. While naturally engaged in fun and/or interesting activities they impart encouraging words and applaud important esteem-building that serves children well during the 1:1 time and well-beyond. Mentoring has steadily been shown to help strengthen the life of a child at home, in school, and in the community.
Ours is a strength-based, prevention program. The children we work with are responsive to this special opportunity and a mentor really can truly propel them forward in life. The Friends Youth Mentoring Program has earned a reputation as life-changing. The program gives encouragement and hope to youngsters referred to us by a professional network of partner schools and youth serving organizations. Each child accepted into the program is believed to have the potential to benefit from 1:1 mentoring; to benefit from an additional top-notch, high quality person in their life. These are interesting children with compelling stories who simply need a chance to thrive. One youngster offered, “I get to go to new places and learn new things. I know I am a good person, but now I also know I can do many things I never knew I could do.”
Mentors are screened, trained, and selectively matched with children. Compatibility, complementary personalities, and proximity are all taken into account. Mentors are professionally supported throughout. The goal is for them to help children gain esteem, confidence, and coping skills that will encourage healthy choices and inspire the realization of goals and dreams. From one of our mentors, “I have a good sense now that I am meaningfully connected to a young person and that I am doing something with my time that will make a lasting difference.”
Research shows that a key difference between a child who makes it in the world as they age up and one who does not, is their connection to a stable, caring person. Match longevity is a hallmark of Friends Youth Mentoring. Although the program asks for one year; the large majority choose to stay beyond that mark with several in the 5-10 year range mentoring one child. This major program accomplishment mirrors what the research says - that the largest positive impacts result from a mentor's sustained presence in a young person's life.
We have a stellar volunteer force celebrating first-hand the positive results of their investment in area children. Such a simple concept as spending quality time with a child has profound and lasting effects. We simply want to provide more deserved children the chance to know this level of success. There are many waiting for the chance to open up their world. The wave of need never subsides. Mentors are needed for both girls and boys. Our waitlist informs that there is especially a need for male mentors. Please contact us if you have an interest in stepping up and stepping in to mentor a child.Be someone who matters to someone who matters.