The County of San Diego’s Foster Youth Mentor Program provides children with supportive and enriching one-on-one relationships that aid in developing self-esteem. The program’s volunteer mentors participate in a variety of activities, including providing transportation, tutoring and taking the child on various social outings.
Volunteers are vital to the existence of the Foster Youth Mentor Program. Elaine McDonald is one of the enthused Foster Youth Mentors. McDonald describes herself as “the fun aunt” to her mentee, Maria. Being a mentor allows McDonald to provide guidance, stability, and build a friendship with Maria. Mentors build relationships with mentees who are in need of positive, stable adult role models. They meet at least weekly with their mentees in order to provide one-on-one support.
“The Foster Youth Mentor program is a great program,” says McDonald. “Anything you do with these kids to do something new and different makes you both better people.”
Mentoring contributes to building self-esteem, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, academic excellence, and social skills to foster children. Each mentor also makes themselves available when the youth reaches out for any additional guidance. Mentors provide mentees with various experiences, both serious and fun.
“I am always looking for things Maria and I can do together as a team,” says McDonald.
Recently, McDonald and her mentee, Maria, participated in a coastal clean-up day at Lake Hodges.
“I think everything here in San Diego ends up in the water,” says McDonald. “I am a swimmer; therefore, cleaning up is a good way to give back.”
The event was dedicated to environmental protection. At Lake Hodges volunteers cleared garbage, removed invasive plants and planted native plants. At the event, Maria loved working as a team and was captivated in the strength of people working together.
The success of the Foster Youth Mentor Program lies in the excellent quality of the mentors and the value they place on their participation.
For further information and if you are interested in the Foster Youth Mentor Program, please contact the Program Coordinator at (619) 767-5211 or by e-mail to Rostum.Ramos@sdcounty.ca.gov