Our program boasts an 85% match retention rate. That means that 85% of our matches make it to the one year mark or longer, nearly 30% higher than the national average for similar programs. But the power of our model shines in our stories.
Meet our 2017 Match of the Year nominees and winners.
Deylli & Allison, matched 2 years.
Little Deylli was referred to the program when a teacher expressed concerned of her severe shyness in school. Her mother spoke limited English and was hesitant to let Deylli spend time with a stranger, but as a single mom raising three girls on a housekeeper’s salary, she knew Deylli could benefit from more socialization and adult attention.
Mentor Alison built rapport with the family immediately, speaking fluent Spanish and having lived in the family’s native Guatemala. Alison went beyond program expectations to spend time in the family’s home, knowing that building trust with the entire family was the only way to build trust with Deylli.
Matched for more than two years, Alison has played a significant role in helping Deylli build positive self-identity and change her internal story about being shy. The past two years, Allison’s gentle encouragement and exposure to different situations has been transformative for Deylli. Previously paralyzed by the fear of failure or interacting with new people, Deylli is now able to approach the librarian by herself, get back on the monkey bars to keep trying, and reads fluently in English and Spanish.
Mentor Alison has also developed a strong relationship with Deylli’s mother who is shy herself. Often trading family dinners and celebrating holidays and birthdays together, this match is one of the truest examples of community building and positive relationship development.
Abdi & Norm, matched 18 months.
This match is an example of how mentoring expands family bandwidth and the value of healthy cultural exchange. When Abdi was first enrolled, he lived with his mom and five siblings in refugee resettlement housing. Because mom was working full-time, the kids rarely left the apartment complex outside of school. Then Abdi met his mentor Norman, a bike riding, laughter filled, easy-going guy who showed up every week with new outings for Abdi, often taking along an extra sibling or two.
Norm was there when the family’s apartment flooded and many of their belongings and furniture were ruined. Norm anonymously donated new shoes for each child in the family and helped Abdi get a bike by volunteering with him at a community bike shop. He was there for Abdi after his new baby sister was born, and he took all the kids out to play to give mom time to rest. Norm helped Abdi get a scholarship for swim lessons, then transported him every day for 2 weeks. Norm even rented a moving truck and helped move the family into their new home. To help adjust into their new school, Norm took off work to go to Parent-Teacher Conferences with Abdi’s mom. Norm and Abdi have been matched now for a year and half, and despite the family moving much farther away, they have remained as consistent as ever.
Abdi says, “I like having someone to hang with all the time, and [Norm] helps me with my reading and writing. My favorite thing is when we go to the gym and work out”.
2017 WINNERS!: Emily and Renee, matched 6 years.
Six years ago Emily was a lively 8-year-old girl, wise beyond her years. When she met her mentor Renee, Emily had already been affected by homelessness, mental illness and a parent incarcerated. During visits to the park or her favorite restaurant, Shari’s, Emily would matter-of-factly tell Renee that she’s seen things 8-year-olds shouldn’t see.
When Emily’s housing complex evicted all residents for repairs, her shred of stability evaporated. Renee became a critical constant, helping Emily get registered for school, showing up for parent teacher conferences, connecting Emily to free healthcare and counseling and driving hours to continue their visits when Emily bounced between family members. When Emily moved in briefly with an aunt in Seattle last year, Renee was the person who drove her up.
Mentor Renee constantly validates Emily as a “regular kid”, keenly aware of how stereotypes can affect kids’ identity and choices. Emily says Renee makes her feel heard and important but still sets high expectations. Renee is the driving force behind Emily’s conviction that she can be the first in her family to graduate high school, and even go to college if she wants to.
Renee is the first to admit how much she gets from her relationship with Emily. Renee says she’s so impressed by Emily’s resilience and that after all Emily has been through, Emily still approaches life with gratitude and humor.
After 6 years in the program, they meet even more frequently than the early years, though their conversations are intensely different. Emily, now age 15, says, “Renee is my back up…I always knew we’d be friends until I was 21, and now probably until death.” What’s more, Renee has become a mentor to new mentors and has recently joined the Family of Friends Board of Directors.