Mentor Drive Pairs At-Risk Youth with Quality Mentors

In commemoration of National Mentoring Month in January, Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana is hosting a mentor drive for its Mentoring Children of Promise (MCP) and Forever Promising and Powerful Future (FPPF) programs. MCP pairs local children ages 4-18 – primarily those who have an incarcerated parent or guardian – with quality, long-term mentors; and FPPF pairs youth age 17 and under who are at-risk or are victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and/or domestic sex trafficking (DST) – with quality mentors.

“Statistics show that 70 percent of children with a parent in prison will one day find themselves behind bars,” says Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana Program Manager Sherlyn Hughes. “But with the help of quality mentors, we can change the odds and help these kids in our Mentoring Children of Promise program stay on track.”

“We recently received federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice for a new mentoring program to help youth who are at risk or have been victims of sexual trauma,” added Hughes. Our goal is to increase positive outcomes for these children through a team approach involving case management, social work services and mentoring support.”

There is a great need for mentors in the Greater New Orleans region. By raising awareness of this need during National Mentoring Month, Volunteers of America hopes to secure at least 50 new program volunteers. Eligible mentors must be at least 18 years old, must be able to pass a background check, and are required to meet with their mentee for at least 8 hours per month for a minimum of one year. Dependability and a passion for helping young people are also key traits. Quality training is provided and required of all mentors.

“Becoming a mentor helped me see things differently. Things I often took for granted before – like having a friend to share stories with or having someone to help me solve a problem – I realize not all kids have those people in their lives,” says MCP program mentor Michael Hickerson. “I strive to be that person for my mentee every day, and it has changed my life for the better.”