Hi again, Party Peeps. I thought today would be a good day to fill you in on another one of my secret projects that I have taken under my belt this year. I have decided to, gulp, become a mentor.
Each day when I leave work, I drive down 5th Street in SFO to get to the Bay Bridge. There is a St. Vincent de Paul at 5th and Brannan that serves nightly dinners to homeless people. Of course, when I get off at 5, it is just in time to drive past everyone waiting in line for dinner. It breaks my heart. Every day. Occasionally, I will roll down my window and give someone a piece of fruit, or a bottled water if I have some extra things with me. I try not to give them money. But anyway, the thing that breaks my heart the most, is how many of these homeless people waiting in line are teenagers. I feel like there are so many preventative steps that could have been taken between their school, counselors, and extended family members to prevent such tragedies from happening, but so many kids slip through the cracks. I have been extremely blessed to have such an amazing, loving family who doesn’t hesitate to nurture me and love me when I need it. When I see some of these kids who have been neglected or abandoned, I just want to hug and squeeze them and let them cry to me, because I know they probably don’t have a family or support system like I do. I know I can’t save the world, but I can put a dime in the bucket and be content knowing that there are a whole lot of other people who care and help out as much as I do (in most cases, a whole lot more).
Back in November, I started researching some mentor and volunteer programs around the Bay Area that would allow me to connect with troubled kids, and simply be a dependable friend. I think I found one of the coolest (and most organized) non-profits in the Bay Area and am thrilled to begin working with them. The Be A Mentor Program (www.beamentor.org) matches up qualified volunteer mentors with children who are either in a foster home or have a parent in prison. After a pretty intense application and reference process, mentor training (which I went to yesterday), and TB testing (which I am getting today), mentors go through an interview before they are placed with a mentee. After my test results come in this week, I will be “matched” with my mentee within a week. Our relationship will begin with a “match meeting” where I visit her home with my Be A Mentor project manager and her social worker. We will meet and get to know her and her parents during the first meeting. From there on out, I will spend a minimum of one hour a week with her for a year-long commitment. I can pick her up and take her on day trips, do fun activities, etc…and even bring her to family get-togethers once we get closer and more comfortable with each other. If you can’t tell, I am uber stoked about meeting my girl and starting this journey with her. I will do my best to keep you peeps updated on our progress and fun adventures. I am not sure how in depth I can go with my posts (with respect to her privacy and also confidentiality laws), but will be getting this information from my Project Manager.
If any of you are looking for a volunteer opportunity or would love to spend some time mentoring a troubled child, I would definitely recommend checking out the Be A Mentor website and considering it. They told us at our training yesterday, that as of now they have over 300 kids in the Bay Area alone on the waiting list to get a Mentor. So the shortage in Mentors is definitely a problem. Spread the word! These kids need our love and time and trust, as for most of them they haven’t had a whole lot of it in the past.
Have a wonderful Sunday, Party Peeps! Here’s to a productive, healthy week ahead! Cheers!