Mentor Program

Mentor Program Mission Statement

The mission of A Family For Every Child's Mentor Program is to unite foster care and at-risk youth in our community with enthusiastic, dedicated, and caring adults who can provide friendship and encouragement while supporting them through life’s various transitions, instilling independence and ultimately building long lasting bonds.

Program Goals

Since the Mentor Program’s inception in 2007, the vision of the program has been to connect youth with positive members of their community to build friendships and have role models who:
  • Provide youth with support and guidance
  • Provide the youth with someone to call and hang out  "just because."
  • Provide a potentially permanent bond for the youth.
  • Teach independent living/life skills, instill creativity, and promote the youth's self esteem.

Who We Serve

A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program serves Oregon youth in Lane County, the greater Portland area, and other areas of Western Oregon. We serve children who are at risk and in need of permanent connections due to being in foster care or have been exposed to experience that could hinder their full potential.

How Do I Refer My Youth?

Parents, caseworkers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, foster parents... almost anyone can refer a youth! A pillar of our program is that all youth participation is voluntary -- every youth in our program is in it because they want to be and no youth shall ever be forced to have a mentor. Know a youth who needs mentor?

What Does A Mentor Do?

There aren’t any typical mentor matches as we don’t have typical youth or mentors. The beauty of A Family For Every Child’s Mentor Program is that it allows for each mentor match to be distinctive. Mentors and youth are matched based upon their mutual interests, not by numbers on a waiting list. Your mentor experience will be as unique as you are! What are you interests? What are your passions? What do you like to do to pass the time? Mentoring is so easy because all you have to do it include your youth in the things you already like to do!

How Do I Become A Mentor?

Becoming a mentor doesn’t have to be a daunting process. Most mentors are matched within six weeks of submitting their application! You’ll find that it’s easier than ever to make a difference in a youth’s life.

Sports and Outdoors Mentor Program

Designed for our male youth, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program makes mentoring more accessible than ever. With a focus on physical activities, lower mentor age requirement and shorter 6 month commitment period, we're breaking down the barriers of male mentoring and creating new possibilities for youth who typically wait longer for their very own mentors

Refer a Mentor

Know someone who would make a great mentor? Send them our way!

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Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program

What is the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program?

Designed for the boys in our traditional mentor program, the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program provides mentoring for boys considered at-risk and may otherwise have to wait months to be matched with a mentor because of the high need for more male volunteers. In addition, the program provides unique opportunities for at-risk children to experience participatory and spectator sports as well as the abundance of outdoor activities Lane County has to offer.

How Does the Sports and Outdoor Mentor Program Work?

You will be matched with one youth or a sibling pair whom you will mentor for the duration of your commitment. At least once per week for 2-3 hours, you will meet with your youth to engage in an outdoor and/or sports activity (we’ll match you with a youth who likes the same activities you do!). You will be responsible for scheduling a time to meet with your youth and will keep A Family For Every Child up to date with your progress with monthly activity reports. There is a 6 month commitment, however, it can be extended!

What are the requirements?

The requirements are similar to our Mentor Program and just as easy! If you fit the following criteria you can be a Sports and Outdoor Mentor to a youth in our program:

  • Male, 19 years of age and older
  • Willing to meet with buddy 2-3 hours per week for sports/outdoor mentoring
  • Able to commit to 6 months of mentoring
  • Able to pass a background check
  • Able to provide three character references
  • Able to mentor a youth in the Eugene or Springfield area

We’re here to guide and support you through this process — it’s easier than you think!

How is this program different from the Mentor Program?

This program is for male youth in our program who are not yet matched with a mentor. While some of the basics are the same, there are some key differences:

  • This program’s main focus is on sports and outdoor activities
  • The time commitment is 6 months, as opposed to 18 months
  • Youth are NOT allowed to visit their mentor’s home
  • The minimum age for mentors is 19-years-old
  • We are only accepting male mentors at this time

Mentor Resources

Becoming A Mentor

Any volunteers that have the privilege of working with children must go through an extensive clearing process. This is a step by step guide on what the requirements are for becoming a mentor, as well as resources to assist mentors once they are matched.

Step 1: Completing a Volunteer Application

The first step in beginning the mentor process is completing a volunteer application. A Family For Every Child's volunteer application requires all volunteers to sign a confidentiality statement. This means that all volunteers are subject to liability if they reveal confidential or identifying information about a child. This is particularly poignant for mentors since they spend one on one time with the child/children. The volunteer application also lists a series of mentor questions to help staff identify what the mentor's interests and hobbies are, as well as what their lifestyle might be like. It is not mandatory to complete the entire questionnaire when filling out the volunteer application, because all mentors must also complete an in home interview.

Step 2: In-Home Interview

All mentors must participate in an in-home interview. An AFFEC staff member will contact you in order to schedule a time when which he or she may come to the potential mentor's home and talk with them about the program as well as what the mentor envisions what the mentor/mentee relationship will look like. The AFFEC representative may review questions that were originally on the volunteer application for further clarification.

Step 3: The Background Check

All mentors and any adult living in their homes are subject to a criminal background check. After completing the background check, you will receive a series of emails that need to be responded to accordingly and will prompt you to get your fingerprints taken at a designated location. The request will time out in 21 days, so it is important to do this as soon as possible.The potential mentor's fingerprints are then sent to the state and the FBI. Background checks usually take 1-3 weeks to be fully processed, and must come back "approved" for a mentor to be matched with a child.

Step 4: Mentor Orientation

Furthermore, mentors are required to attend a mentor orientation. The mentor orientation reviews important topics, such as the program's requirements, the population we work with, the mentor match process, mandatory reporting, effective communication, and match closure. The orientation is the first step in learning about mentoring and working with a child, however, the orientation should not be expected to have "all the answers." For this reason, mentor volunteers also receive monthly training webinars and access to extra resources.

Mentor Assisted Life Skills & Educational Outreach

A Family For Every Child has begun two programs in in order to help support mentors and mentees in our Mentor Program – the Educational Outreach program and Mentor Assisted Life Skills Program. The mission of these branches is to support youth educationally through connecting with their schools and providing them with the life skills they need in order to live as successful adults.

What is Mentor Assisted Life Skills Training?

We pair mentors with youth who will work on developing life skills together. Mentors and mentees will be offered a curriculum that includes information on how to handle one's finances, healthcare, cooking, and more. This program will better prepare children who are at risk of "aging out" of foster care and living on their own. These classes in conjunction with the mentors' support will aid in the success of each child becoming a self sufficient adult!

These fun and informative classes are held on a monthly basis, and we hope to increase that number soon. These classes are not only learning opportunities, but they’re opportunities for foster youth to meet their peers.

If you are interested in helping with our Mentor Assisted Life Skills classes, please email mentor@afamilyforeverychild.org.

What is the Educational Outreach Program?

Many children in foster care do not receive the academic assistance that they need. Due to the lack of aid and the probability of a higher rate of school transfers, many foster youth struggle to remain academically on track. With Assistance from the Oregon Community Foundation, our Educational Outreach Program connects mentors to their mentee's school so they may help their mentee if he or she is struggling. Our Education Outreach Coordinator helps guide the mentor by connecting them to key individuals, meetings regarding their mentee, offering trainings, and more.

Mary Bromley, Education Outreach Coordinator

 

National Mentor Partnership Program

Would you like to change the life of a foster child?

Many of our organizations do wonderful things to help foster children. Are you looking for other ways that can make a huge impact on the youth in your area? Start a mentor program and we are here to help.

A Family for every child was started in 2006 and has developed many successful programs to help youth in foster care. One of our most successful programs is our mentor program. Our goal for our mentor program is to create meaningful mentoring relationships that will help increase the odds for future success for the young person. Studies show that surrounding foster care youth with positive role models will help increase their odds for future success.

Mentoring relationships can play a huge role in helping foster youth reach their potential and have healthy successful lives. Research shows that youth who are mentored are 45 percent less likely to use illicit drugs; 59 percent more likely to succeed in school; and 73 percent more likely to attain higher life achievement goals. Foster youth are moved from school to school and home to home. They lack stability and permanency. It is our responsibility to ensure that these youth have the opportunity to build lasting relationships. These youth can learn to thrive when someone gives them the time and energy to show they care.

Want to set up a mentor program in your area?

The mentor support system provides guidelines on how to build new mentor programs and/or successfully help strengthen your old program. It focuses on designing and planning the program, managing the program and sustaining the program. As Oprah Winfrey once said, "A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself."

We will provide the following assistance for agencies working with "at risk" youth.

  • Selecting the management team for your organization.
  • Developing a financial plan
  • Promoting the program
  • Building relationships with Department of Human Services, therapists, schools.
  • Building relationships with community partners.
  • Recruiting mentors.
  • Training, screening, background checks on mentors.
  • Matching process.
  • Monitoring and support of the mentor/mentee relationship.
  • Closure
  • Evaluation of the program's success.
  • Sustaining the program.

Please contact Christy Obie-Barrett at 541-343-2856 or email christy@afamilyforeverychild.org for more information on how to get your mentoring program started.

Mentor Testimonials

Mary's Story

In 2009, my boys were grown up and gone and I was feeling like I had missed out not having a little girl. I went to an event for A Family For Every Child and saw some pictures of children who wanted mentors. There was a young girl who lived in my neighborhood with her foster family. I signed up right away.

When I met Shelley, she was twelve years old and living in a foster home with three other girls. The four of them all shared a room. Shelley wanted to learn to ride a bike. I found out there were so many things she had never done. She had never made her own bed or prepared her own meals. She had rarely shopped to pick out her own clothes or eaten at a nice restaurant. School was hard for Shelley. In fact both social and academic skills were hard for Shelley. A lacked confidence often led to her sabotaging relationships with her peers. Shelley's reading and writing skills were significantly below grade level. I attended IEP meetings, listened to her teachers and helped her organize and complete requirements. In addition to her difficulties with school, Shelley was dealing with the trauma she suffered while in the care of her mother. She felt angry and betrayed. Many years of counseling have helped Shelley express her feelings and deal with her sad and scary memories.

My time with Shelley has been fun. We eat many meals together. Some we prepare together and some we eat out. Shelley has spent some holidays with me. We shop and go to movies. When she was 13, I took her to swimming lessons because I think every child should learn to swim. We also rode horses, walked on the beach and played miniature golf. When she graduated from 8th grade, I was the only adult at that graduation for Shelley. We have had long conversations about how to deal with bullies and fickle girlfriends. Since I was a reading teacher, I always got books for Michelle and made sure she was always reading something.

By the time she was in high school, I ended up reading books she recommended!

This June was one of the happiest days in her life- and mine. Shelley graduated from high school. She passed all state benchmark tests and almost exceeded the benchmark in reading. At the graduation, she had her boyfriend and his family, her biological sister and her biological father. Now Shelley is planning to get her CNA and go to Lane Community College in the fall. Being a mentor has been very rewarding and lots of fun. Shelley often thanks me and lately she told me that she would not have graduated if I was not in her life.

Jen's Story

My name is Jen and I began mentoring in January to a 15 year old girl.  Before I met my mentee I was not looking to be a mentor.  I was just looking to fill a few extra hours a week by volunteering and I knew that Lisa would place me where I would be the most help.  So when her response was "how do you feel about mentoring"  all that went through my head was are you kidding?  I am pretty sure I started laughing.  My hesitation was not because I didn't think that I would be a positive role model.  I really didn't think that I had the personality for it as I am not very outgoing and I am some what quiet.  Deciding to be a mentor was a huge step for me, one that I am so happy I chose to do it.   When I started with the program I knew I wanted to give my mentee the feeling as if she was apart of our family,  so a lot of our time spent together was at family outings, dinners, and birthdays.  Things that she didn't always get to do because of being a foster child.   The joy on her face made me understand why we need mentors for our foster youth. 

Today she is now my daughter.  Our roles have changed dramatically over the summer.   In June she needed to change placements.   My husband and I were informed of this possibility from the beginning.  It was a big decision and one that we knew the answer to immediately.   If she was a fit for our family then there would be no way we could turn our backs on her.  Our biological children bonded with her as well as our extended families.  We couldn't   imagine our family without her.   I can honestly say it has not been easy.  We have had our share of hiccups, but what families don't?  I feel so blessed to have her in my life.   She has taught me so much about myself.  I am a better person because of her.

Story From a Mentor

I first met my mentee on July 1, 2008. Her DHS caseworker requested a mentor for her from AFFEC, and I was chosen to be matched with her. During the time since then, she and I have seen our relationship grow and change tremendously. From the beginning, we both have enjoyed shopping at Goodwill and at yard sales to find great bargains and hidden treasures. We also love to go out to eat dinner when we are together, to cook some favorite foods, to play board games and to shoot basketballs. It was a very special experience when she began to spend the night in my home every now and then, which gave us more time to plan arts and crafts projects to work on together. Recently, she spent several weeks living with me while her DHS caseworkers worked to identify a new foster placement where she and her younger brother can live together. This gave us a chance to really know one another well and to deepen our friendship as we shared our daily routines and talked about our hopes and dreams for her future.

My mentee says that having a mentor is a lot like having a best friend, someone that you really trust. She thinks that having a mentor is important because many kids don't have a chance to make friends, and a mentor is like your own personal friend, so that you don't feel so lonely. I think that being a mentor has allowed me the opportunity to watch a very special child grow and discover her real self while facing adversity that would certainly discourage most people. My skills at listening and supporting her have been strengthened, and I have had the joy of knowing that I can make a difference in how her life unfolds.

Both her and her brother are now in a wonderful new foster home, which happens to be much farther away from me, but we have decided that we want to continue our mentoring relationship because it is so important to both of us. In the next few weeks, we will start to see how things will change, since we will not be able to get together as frequently as before. Nevertheless, I believe that we will each make the effort to stay close friends, and that I will have the very special privilege of watching her grow into a beautiful, talented and successful young woman!

Mentee Testimonial

My relationship with my mentor started during the end of January. It was about a week before my 15th birthday. We enjoy cooking together, going to church, and music. What I think that we've learned from each other is a lot. We have learned how to get along, treat each other with respect, and overall how to become more like friends. She has been a huge influence on me. By showing me that she cares about me, I now know what it is like to be loved by two parents, instead of just one. I love her and I hope that she stays in my life for many years to come. Even though we have a few arguments here and there, I know that she will always be there for me, and I will be there for her. She is a big part of my life now. I can't ignore the fact that she and her husband chose me. I have never felt so loved. When I sat in one of the visiting rooms at OCP, and my mentor and her husband told me together that they wanted me to live with them forever, I literally started to cry. It made me feel so good about myself, like I didn't have to hide a part of me anymore. I love the feeling that I get every time I look at my parents and they smile at me. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside my heart. They gave me the love that I had been craving my entire life. I feel as though I had had a tremendous hole in the middle of my heart. Now that hole is gone, thanks to the love and support that I get from my parents. To me a mentor is someone who looks after you when you're feeling down and out of sorts. They try to comfort you when you need it, and they are always there for you, no matter what happens. When you're feeling like there is nothing to live for, just ask your mentor how much you mean to them and then you'll wonder how you ever got to feeling so out of place. I think that mentoring programs are very important because it lifts the child's spirit every time you give them a smile. It makes them feel like they have a reason for living. For me, it's just the fact that I know that she's always there for me when I need her, and even when I'd rather be alone she is there. They're kind of like the best friend you've always wanted but could never find. When you find your mentor, make sure that they know that you love them and that you know that they love you as well. My mentor means everything to me. I can't live without her. I don't even remember what my life was like before I met her, it's just a fuzzy memory in the back of my mind. This is why I think that mentoring is important!!!

Kids Needing Mentors