A mentor is an adult from the community who comes alongside an unrelated young person and consistently provides guidance and encouragement. Research has shown that youth who have a positive adult role model in their life have less depressive symptoms and are less likely to engage in negative behaviors (The Role of Risk, 2013).
Having a consistent adult presence in their life allows youth to experience stability and support outside of the home during a time when it is vitally needed. It is not that parents can't provide support at home, but many youth spend less time at home as they grow older. Also, since mentors do not take on an authority role, youth tend to feel free to share more openly with them.
The main goal of mentoring is to provide support in order to help youth build their self-esteem and ability to cope (Higley, Walker, Bishop, & Fritz, 2014). One-to-one mentoring relationships provide youth with the space to have someone listen to their experiences, offer words of encouragement, and help them navigate challenges in their life.
Youth who have mentors often experience:
· Better interpersonal skills
· Decreased truancy, substance abuse, and physical aggression
· Increased attendance and grades
· Improved relationships with parents and peers
(Farruggia, 2011; Langhout, Rhodes, & Osborne, 2004)
At Foundry Mentoring, we are addressing this need in Larimer County by connecting youth with volunteer mentors from the community. Youth and their mentors will spend time together engaging in activities at the youth center and in the community. Each mentoring relationship will be unique since each person has a unique combination of strengths, interests, personality traits, and experiences. Foundry staff consider personality, interests, and other factors when matching mentees and mentors.