Circuit Court Judge Richard Jordan and Agnes Leshner, Director of Child Welfare Services at Montgomery County Health and Human Services, join Carson Henry, Executive Director of YMCA Youth and Family Services (YFS), in announcing “One for One” a new initiative encouraging residents to volunteer with one area child for one hour, once a week. This initiative coincides with National Mentoring Month, January 2014.
Montgomery County suffers a severe shortage of mentors: For every child already matched with a caring, attentive adult, there are several more waiting for the benefits such a relationship provides. Male mentors are in especially short supply. The new initiative is part of a push to increase the number of new volunteers to meet the rising need.
“Our goal is to partner with businesses and community groups to recruit forty new mentors for children experiencing foster care in Montgomery County,” Mr. Henry said. “We know that one mentor spending one hour a week with one child can make a huge difference in the course of a child’s life.”
The YFS mentoring program recently merged with the Bridges to Pals Mentoring Program and is now known as YMCA Youth Links. The new name was selected to represent the vital role mentoring plays in linking at-risk youth to a better future.
“Having a mentor can change the life of a child– it is a particularly powerful intervention for youth who have been abused and neglected,” said Ms. Leshner. “Mentors can play a powerful role in improving a child’s self-esteem, reducing drug and alcohol abuse, youth violence and dropout rates. We are very fortunate to have both wonderful mentors and the YMCA providing excellent leadership for the program.”
Research has found that mentoring is also a successful intervention among at-risk youth in reducing depression, and strengthening academic performance and school attendance. “The message of the campaign is simple,” said Judge Jordan. “One person can make a huge difference in a child’s life. They ache for someone who they can trust to care about them and to be a steady force of guidance. No child should have to go through life alone, without adult support, guidance and encouragement. “
For more information about the program or successful mentors and mentees, please call the YMCA Youth and Family Services Youth Links Program at 240-432-6530.