Mentor One Child…Enrich Two Lives
The Friends Youth Mentoring Program serves youth in communities within Merrimack County. Volunteers are recruited, screened, and trained to become mentors to school-age youth, ages 6-17. 150 Friends Mentors contribute 13,000 hours of annual volunteer service to benefit local youth.
The Need is GREAT
At present, 65 local youth are waiting to be matched with a Friends Program mentor.
Mentors are a dedicated group of individuals who care deeply about our youth and our community. They give a lot, and our standards and expecations are high. Friends Youth Mentors volunteer within established research-based frameworks to promote the inherent benefits of long-term, steady and stable 1:1 relationships.
The Youth Mentoring Program gives encouragement and hope to youngsters referred to us by a network of 31 partnering schools and organizations. Every child is unique - and their circumstances are, too. A youngster might need a little bit of help for one of many reasons - parental absenteeism, a medical condition, exposure to abuse, or a learning disability. A growing number of youth in the program are the children of refugees fleeing oppression in their countries of origin. The majority of children and families in the program live below the poverty level.
What the research says…
Research consistently shows that a key difference between successful and unsuccessful youth from lower-income communities is mentoring. A review of more than 200 studies concluded that, in order to successfully pass through adolescence, youth need access to safe places, challenging experiences, and caring people on a daily basis. Mentors provide these 3 key elements and improve self-esteem, serve as role models, and advocates.
Mentoring relationships are life-changing; recent studies show drastic strides in social, emotional, cognitive, and identity development. Our recent surveys report:
- 97% of children felt they were in a youth-centered relationship
- 96% felt emotionally engaged
- 96% were satisfied with their mentoring relationship.
In addition, we feel our value on best practice standards contributed to the following:
- 92% of children reported a better attitude toward school
- 86% performed better academically
- 96% expressed a greater sense of self-confidence
- 91% communicated a greater resistance to alcohol/drugs
Match longevity is a hallmark of Friends Youth Mentoring. In 2013, 66% of matches had been together for more than a year. Some have stayed together as long as 9 years. This major program accomplishment that mirrors what the research tells us - that the largest positive impacts result from a mentor's sustained presence in a young person's life.