For an eight-year-old boy, there is absolutely nothing more devastating than losing your dad.
"They were almost like brothers, playing pranks on the rest of the family, always laughing," recalls Jason's mother, Jennifer, who had to contend with her own grief while helping her son cope. "I saw the light leave my son. It was hard to figure out what to do to make him laugh again."
Through Jason's school guidance counselor, Jennifer learned about the Friends Program. She called us hoping to find a mentor to match with her son.
Wade was in his mid-fifties with two grown daughters. We matched him with Jason because of his interest in doing the kind of "boy stuff" he loved to do when he was Jason's age.
The first time Jason met Wade, he was a little shy. Wade tried to get his new Junior Friend to open up by asking about the kinds of things Jason and his dad used to do together for fun.
This sent Jason running to his bedroom.
A moment later he returned with a dusty little trophy. "My dad and I got this at the ice fishing derby before he died. Do you fish?"
In the past four years, the two have gone fishing, built a tree house, climbed mountains, and much more.
Wade is one of many Friends Program volunteers. These community champions do so much for our most vulnerable neighbors. They drive homebound seniors to the doctor's office, help shelter homeless families, and mentor youngsters like Jason.
For 40 years, the Friends Program has been recruiting volunteers like Wade. I hope that you can help by making a year-end gift.
If you have contributed recently - thank you! Your gift will immediately be put to work.
Last year, the Friends Annual Fund campaign raised $30,000. Can you help us increase - or even double this amount? With 2014 having marked the last year of the Friends auction, your generosity is vital to our efforts.
I am grateful for your gift in whatever amount you are able to contribute and appreciate your kind consideration.