One of the many successful programs administered by A Family For Every Child is the mentor program. Its purpose is to place foster children with a loving, supportive and fun mentor. The rewards are numerous and the children are not the only one’s blessed by the experience. Here is a story written by a mentor:
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 lack of 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 Shelley 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.
Shelley’s story is true, although her name has been changed for her protection.