|Friends of Children|
Friends of Children is a unique mentoring program for kids at risk--poverty or lack of education or parents too young. All races, genders. It has a unique approach to helping at-risk youth. From their website, "We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through high school graduation. 12 ½ years. No matter what." Their model:
Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them. We develop a road map for each child and design activities to build life skills. We create meaningful experiences to explore each child’s unique talents and interests.
On hot summer days, I would offer our young man something to drink. If I had just baked something, I would offer him a treat. Sometimes I had to ask him to return a different day because we had no cash on hand. He always had a smile. This great sweet smile. Once in a while he would bring along a friend he said he was mentoring. Always polite. Always respectful.
During the school year, he would come every other month. They were going to University of Washington. They were going to Eastern Oregon. They were going to University of Oregon. I watched him through four years of high school. I watched him grow, change, become a handsome intelligent soft-spoken young man.
Today he came by just to say hello. His last debate will be in August. Then he is going to take a trip to Las Vegas with friends. Then he will begin college. He is going to move to eastern Oregon to attend the university there. He wants to get out of the city and try new things.
I feel like he is one of my kids in a way and I am so proud of him. I told him this today. He beamed. I laughed and as we were parting, I shook his hand and told him of how much he did for himself all these year...and I didn't even know his name.
He grinned and softly said, "I'm JaySean." I gave him a hug and he strutted away, off to meet the world. Good on you, JaySean. Good on you.