The following was written by one of the mentors at Serve Our Youth in Iowa who was nominated for an Excellence in Mentoring award. After reading this I felt compelled to share some of these insights with you.
“One of the main things I strive for is consistency. If I say I am coming at a certain day or time, I think it’s really important to do that. These are kids who, over & over, have been let down by people and events, so to do what we say we will do is very, very important. I try to be accepting and nonjudgmental and “non-shocked” by anything in their past they want to share. It’s important to allow them to talk but not push that they must. Often, just doing fun stuff & not dwelling on their past is the best therapy we can do with them.
On boundaries – Don’t try to be their parent, don’t try to be their peer. Be a genuinely caring adult person in their life.
Never say anything negative about their parents.
See the potential in the kids you serve. Help them dream beyond themselves. Love the kids for who they are.
The strength and resiliency our SOY kids display is nothing short of incredible. They become our heroes.
Some activities I’ve done with some of the kids I’ve seen: Have them over to our home, make dinner together, make food for others, walks at Gray’s Lake, canoeing, movies, going to a Halloween Fun House, playing games & doing activities at a pizza place, attending younger brother’s football games, having them pose for “photo shoots” & giving them a really nice set of pictures of themselves, and playing with grandkids together.
When our own children were in school, we always enjoyed having their friends over to our house and making them feel welcome. When our kids left home, mentoring became a way to be involved in the lives of other kids who, through life’s circumstances, needed more support. Like with many things, mentors don’t mentor for what we get, but our lives are blessed beyond measure because we mentor. It’s a very small way to give back.”
There are many programs like SOY (Save Our Youth) around the United States. Mentoring programs like Cabrini Connections focus on students living in economically disadvantaged areas. To learn more about Cabrini Connections or to be able to find a tutor/mentor program in your area please visit tutormentorprogramlocator.net/
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