Mentoring young people can be life-changing for both the mentor and mentee. Through Youth Villages’ Chris Crye Mentoring Program, you can be a big positive change in a child’s life and direction. Mentors provide important life skills and lessons, career advice, and fun to young people.
Julie Abbott, community development manager with Youth Villages in Middle Tennessee, works with young people frequently in her day-to-day job. However, last year, she made the leap to become a volunteer mentor, on her own time, to a 13-year-old boy living in a Youth Villages residential facility for teenage boys. The young boy has been in foster care since he was five years old, so he hasn’t had a lot of stable adults in his life.
Julie went through the appropriate training for the mentor program after getting to know the child, realizing what a bond they had and what kind of a difference she could make in his life. She will officially be his mentor until he graduates from the residential facility after high school.
“We spend time together every other Saturday,” said Julie. “We’ll go play at the park, hit balls at the batting cages or go to a movie. We always eat a meal and talk though.”
Julie and her mentee talk about life happenings, what normal school and outing expectations are; they talk about his grades and what is he is learning at school. Julie also works to instill life skills in her mentee, such as typical social behaviors. They work on not talking to strangers or petting dogs without asking the owner, for example. They also practice self-control and following directions, skills he’s missed out on so far without a steady adult in his life.
“I talk to him about careers. He wants to be a police officer and I’ve encouraged him to look in all the facets of public safety, those public facing and behind the scenes, thinking beyond your typical police officer, to find a good fit for him,” said Julie.
Julie also steps in where a parent would. She went to his back-to-school day at his school last fall. “I have his back, and he knows that,” said Julie. “We’ve developed a trusting relationship.”
Mentors often serve as confidants and advisors to young people, serving as a sounding board and offering life advice. As a mentor, you’ll grow as a professional and improve your communication and problem-solving skills. And your mentee will learn lifelong lessons. For more information about becoming a mentor through Youth Villages visit www.youthvillages.org/mentor.
“As mentors, we are something fun and different, a distraction from their typical days,” added Julie.
Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at www.youthvillages.org.
Crisis services are available 24/7 if your child needs support. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. If you have thoughts of suicide, contact 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.