Stephen and Paul ~ St. Paul's School "Friends"
On January 3, 2014, Governor Maggie Hassan declared January 2014 Youth Mentoring Month in New Hampshire to coincide with National Mentoring Month efforts in the field. This proclamation gives a specific nod to the Friends Youth Mentoring Program. The Friends Youth Mentoring Program has served 27 cities and towns in Merrimack County for 39 years. The Governor’s Proclamation recognizes the fact that over the years the Friends Youth Mentoring Program has connected thousands of mentors to our region’s young people, cultivating relationships that provide important support and guidance as these youngsters grow and develop into our next generation of citizens. The honor recognizes the benefits the Friends Youth Mentoring Program continues to provide and highlights their quality work on behalf of children at risk or in need.
The simple act of being a consistent presence in a young person’s life through a quality mentoring relationship is proven to help improve school attendance and academic achievement, promote responsible decision-making, and provide skills to better navigate relationships at school, socially, and at home.
The Governor’s Proclamation states, “The State of New Hampshire is committed to meeting the needs of its young people and supporting reputable and effective resources, and the Friends Youth Mentoring program is a longstanding, fine example.”
The Friends Youth Mentoring Program hopes the recognition catalyzes new Mentors to volunteer time and talents. The agency hopes bringing attention to mentoring possibilities will help with year round strategies that assist in growing their capacity to ensure every youngster who seeks a mentor is connected to the right caring person. The agency is in need of resources that would build their capacity to address a waitlist of children hoping for a mentor. The majority of children served face below poverty level circumstances. As agency services are free of charge to families, the program depends on the humanity and community-mindedness of others, as they strive to keep program opportunities accessible.
Tim McGinley, President of the Board of Trustees at the Friends Program states, “We are all very pleased with the Governor’s support and recognition of youth mentoring by proclaiming January Youth Mentoring Month. We all share a common interest in providing trained and capable mentors for our young people. Supportive mentors can be the difference between struggle and success for some children. We partner with more than 30 community organizations – schools, afterschool programs, and the private sector in helping to assure meaningful, longstanding, healthy relationships for area youngsters. We work with them to build bridges and pathways for these youngsters. If area citizens have the time and interest in mentoring a child, they would be helping youngsters from their own community move towards fulfilling their hopes and dreams, in addition to enriching their own lives.”
Terri Smith, Youth Mentoring Program Coordinator relays, “Many of us are fortunate to have good mentors throughout our lives. We carry their wisdom and example with us as a reminder of their special, timeless gifts. There are some youngsters who aren’t as fortunate. They need a positive force in their lives. We are a prevention program and time and again see a turning point for kids when they are connected to a mentor. Their world opens up to new possibilities. We wholeheartedly applaud the efforts of our volunteer mentors; as they are the centerpiece of the organization and all inspire and nurture the potential inherent in their young charges. We would like to provide this kind of support to all youngsters brought to our attention, but need more volunteer mentors to step up. Each youngster we work with has a story to tell and most just need the chance to be heard. All face challenging circumstances with resilience and dignity, often beyond their years, and are grateful that a caring mentor had taken an interest.”
National Youth Mentoring Month, which is recognized by presidential and congressional proclamation, is led by MENTOR – the National Mentoring Partnership, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Corporation for National Community Service, the United Way Worldwide, and the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention; all involved in their own campaign to invite more citizens nationwide to mentor. Their campaign promotes, “Be someone who matters to someone who matters.”