One Mentor’s Experience

I became involved with mentoring through Lifeways just over a year ago.  At that time, the program was in its infancy.  The program is under the direction of Sandra Shelton and is supervised by Jennifer Yturriondobetia, who has been the driving force behind this program.  In a way, the program is like Big Brothers and Big Sisters but it is more structured and goes much deeper.  The local Lifeways mentoring program involves numerous people for each mentee and all of these people need to be actively involved for the program to succeed.

 

If mentoring is determined to be included in treatment of the child, I am first evaluated by the managing clinician and the parents or guardian to determine if I would be a good fit for the child.  I am then given direct instructions by the clinician for the action that would be most beneficial for the child.  Research has shown that if there is a developed relationship that keeps the child involved over a longer period of time, there will be a greater chance for success.  Research also shows that mentoring that is abruptly halted after a short period of time may have a detrimental outcome.

 

After the initial training, there is ongoing training on a weekly basis and mentors also meet with the program supervisor on a weekly basis to discuss the progress of the child.  Monthly meetings are held with the Community Resource Team, which consists of the clinician, parents, mentor, and school representative.  The team may also include medical and judicial representatives.  The meetings are facilitated by a representative from Lifeways and they include a report of up-to-date progress on the previous month’s plan and a current assessment of the needs and concerns of the child.   An action plan that includes each member of the Community Resource Team is developed for the next month with the needs and concerns of the child in mind.

 

I spend approximately 2 hours twice a week with each child for a total of approximately 16 hours per month.  During each session, at a minimum, I will model acceptable social behavior and also try to provide a positive and enjoyable experience.  I try to provide a balance of indoor activities with outdoor activities.  Some of the activities have included trips to the newspaper, museum, library, airport and a local veterinarian.  Other fun things include basketball, baseball, football, skateboarding, bicycling, golf, model rockets, kite flying, fishing, model building and geocaching.  You don’t have to be young to find a lot of fun things to do and these activities can take the child’s mind off of their problems for a short time, which can be very helpful.  Behavior modeling can be more effective if the child is having fun at the same time.

 

There is paperwork but it is necessary to provide ongoing information to the clinician and also justify the benefits to the funding agencies.  If I am spending 4 to 5 hours per week with the child and my observations are provided to the clinician, this can be one more thing that is helpful in continued treatment.  The treatment and help for these children relies on the involvement and cooperation of a number of people including the cooperation of the parents.

 

There are times that are challenging and I question the amount of time that I am spending with this program.  However, the time that I spend with these children will hopefully make a difference in their lives and there are rewards for me.  I get to have fun and see someone else having fun at the same time.  If I should be spending more time fishing and having fun in my retirement, why not spend it with someone who will enjoy it as much or more than I do?  I feel that I am getting much more than I am giving.

If you are interested in being
a Mentor, call Jen “Y” at 889-9167