“Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset.”
-MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership
Not only does Family of Friends provide local kids with critical support through play and relationships building but…
75% of participants surveyed said kids maintained or increased their social and emotional skills linked to success in school and relationships.
90% of our matches last one year or longer. This is the gold standard for mentoring programs, and nearly 40% higher than the national average for similar programs.
But the real power of our model shines in our stories…
Meet our 2018 Match of the Year nominees and winners
Mike and Jimmy
Matched in March 2016, Mike and Jimmy’s unfailing commitment and willingness to go out on an emotional limb is the primary reason for their nomination. Jimmy is a fun, sensitive 8-year-old, which means he is very empathetic, but also highly impacted by the turmoil of his family. With his biological parents unable to raise him, Jimmy lives with his grandmother who also uses a wheelchair. Before mentor Mike came along, Jimmy’s shyness meant there were few people he felt safe to express his anger or emotions with, this caused Jimmy to draw inward, speaking to few and trusting fewer.
Mentor Mike’s experience as a social worker meant he understood the complex emotions Jimmy faced, and that it would take time to build trust and draw Jimmy out. With no male role model at home, Mentor Mike has offered a guy’s perspective and interests. Over video games and basketball at Jimmy’s apartment, after 18 months, Jimmy’s grandma says he seems like a different kid. He’s expressive and animated, and she has noted a marked reduction in his anxiety and fear. Mike’s wife is a health coach and is slowly building trust with Jimmy’s grandmother to act as a resource when needed. And Jimmy has gained a friend in Mike’s daughter, Bella, who is a year older and attends the same school. Through steady, simple activities, listening ears and open hearts, this match has become like family.
John and Cloy
Matched in March 2016, staff selected Cloy and John for their ability to overcome extreme obstacles and remain as close as ever. John has been pulled back and forth between relatives for most of his young life. After his parents struggled with addiction, in late 2015 he landed with his half-sister’s mother and her five children. As a charming, smart and connective 10-year-old, the constant moves created a deep sense of loss for John. Craving attention and stability, he began acting out, and fell further behind in school. That’s when his mentor Cloy joined the team of adults to support him.
Cloy quickly earned John’s trust with his similar jovial demeanor and love of sports. But most importantly, Cloy kept showing up. He met with John’s counselors, guardians and Family of Friends program staff to learn listening skills that would help him build trust with John. And John slowly began to show signs of thriving. His grades improved, he made peace with his siblings, and his relationship with Cloy grew stronger than ever.
But just as John was getting his feet under him, it was decided that he would go live with his father. Cloy listened without judgement, and supported John through the transition. Even now, after John moved more than 50 miles away, mentor Cloy visits once a month and is building a relationship with John’s new family. John and Cloy call each other religiously once a week to talk shop and crack jokes. This relationship has demonstrated that situations can change, and life can continue to be hard, but friendships can last.
Paige and Marwa: 2018 Winners!
Matched in November 2015, Paige & Marwa stand out for their steadfast commitment in difficult transitions, their life-changing cultural sharing, and a closeness that has become like family. At enrollment, 6-year-old Marwa was shy with an adventurous spirit and loved crafty, artsy things. But as the third youngest of 7 kids in a Somali refugee family, Marwa’s mother was busy working and had no steady father figure for the kids. Marwa was getting lost in the fray. When mentor Paige came along in Nov. 2015, she and Marwa were joined at the hip. Through thoughtful questions and observations, mentor Paige learned about Marwa’s family customs, like wearing the hijab and Muslim traditions around food and animals. Paige acted as a bridge to advocate for Marwa in a world that was often not so accepting.
Mentor Paige spends much of the mentoring time at Marwa’s home engaging Marwa with her family, learning about the language and delicious Somali food and traditions. When the family’s apartment flooded, and they lost their furniture and shoes, Paige was there and took the kids out to the library, and brought home books and movies. The family gladly accepts Paige’s presence at parent teacher conferences, and help with their older sister’s scholarships. But most importantly, Paige focuses on Marwa, and developing skills through her love of art and creativity. As a result, Marwa walks taller, with increased confidence and social skills that help her navigate school and family relationships. Paige has shown up every week (sometimes twice a week) for two straight years, and has exceeded program requirements on reporting and contact with staff. Mentor Paige says she receives just as much benefit from the program as her mentee. This match is an example of how personal relationships can overcome cultural barriers, unify our community and help our kids to succeed.