Mentoring with the Family Care Network has been an amazing experience; so much so that I can’t imagine stopping even though my one year commitment is complete. When I first decided to volunteer with children, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew I liked kids, but was afraid that they wouldn’t like me. And I had no idea if I could legitimately be called a patient or flexible person. But after mentoring a 14 year old girl for 12 months, I feel like I’ve learned a ton, especially about who I am as a person.
Your fridge is much more than a place for groceries and leftovers. In fact, your fridge shows what matters to you. I’m not talking about whether you’re eating a balanced diet, or whether you are trying to save the planet. Matter of fact, I’m not even referring to what’s inside your fridge. I’m talking about what’s on the outside of your fridge.
“We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how.”
Why am I so passionate about mentoring?
By mentoring, you are willing to give your time, be a consistent person who can offer advice and support, share your life experiences and help mentees navigate challenges. Although the purpose of mentoring is to make a positive, long-lasting impression on mentees, often times these effects are experienced by many mentors themselves.
Volunteers are an essential element of FCNI. So much so, that we have an entire department dedicated to working with the 500+ volunteers who work with us each year--some as mentors or tutors, and others who work on our fundraising events or help with administrative tasks. Our volunteers dedicate over 3,000 hours every year to our mission--that’s a lot of time, energy and compassion in motion!
I’m Nat, a Rehabilitation Specialist working with youth at Family Care Network. I’ve been a mentor for about six months now, and I’d like to share about my experience because I think that mentoring foster youth makes a big difference in their lives and in our community. I met my mentee working as a Rehabilitation Specialist in our Emergency Shelter Care Program. She was in a shelter foster home for about six months, and during those months I picked her up from school almost every day, and spent the rest of the day with her.
Mentor relationship aren’t just made, they’re cultivated through shared experiences, earned trust and genuine care. We always appreciate the compassion and patience our Mentors show towards their developing mentor relationships, as it makes all the difference in showing our kids that each one of them is important and unique.
January is National Mentor Month, and we want to honor the many individuals who volunteer their time and energy to support our kids. Our mentors are some of the most amazing people. And the relationships they build with our kids are often times life-changing for both mentors and mentees.
We’d like to introduce you to Colleen and Angelo, an FCNI mentor and mentee, who want to share a sneak peek into their special relationship.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?” -Martin Luther King Jr.
The quote above, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, has always been one of my favorites. I love Dr. King’s words because, at least in my own attempts to explain why I feel it necessary to perform service for others, I seemingly fail to capture the original impulse which has led me to service in the first place. There’s always something missing from my explanation; something just beneath the surface which I can’t quite put into words. This inarticulation presents a strange paradox that I suppose many people other than myself find themselves in, particularly those who enter public service fields. With that said, I’ve found myself reflecting on this quote a lot over the last year. You see, I’ve been working as an AmeriCorps member here at the Family Care Network since September 2016. AmeriCorps is a federal program with the express goal of engaging adults in public service work with aims of "helping others and meeting critical needs in the community." The simplest way to think of AmeriCorps is as the U.S. domestic version of the more well-known Peace Corps program.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcom X
This quote comes to mind as I think about all of the amazing young people I have the privilege to see move forward with their educational and career goals. Whether it is the elementary student who is connected with a perfect tutor to help them catch up with their peers, a high school senior who learns they have been accepted to all of the universities they applied to, or it's the new college graduate who lands the job of their dreams! Each one of the students we serve overcome many obstacles to reach their goals!