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The Saratoga Mentoring Program, a program of Catholic Charities seeks to match children with caring adults for the purpose of friendship and cultural enrichment. The friendship between the mentor and child provides the child with a new chance to develop confidence and learn about the world around them. Research shows that kids who have a mentor will show improvement in school performance and attendance, will have better social skills, and will be resilient to drug and alcohol abuse.All of this happens while the mentor and the child are having a good time together playing sports, seeing a movie, or walking around town. Mentoring is fun for both the mentor and the child.
The Mentoring Relationship
The mentor and child develop a lasting friendship based on trust and common interests. Mentors are asked to spend a couple of hours weekly with the child, involving the child in fun activities. Mentors are asked to be a friend and a role model. A mentor is not a social worker, teacher, parent or psychiatrist. The goal is to have fun together while enjoying art, sports, movies,etc. Even doing errands in the hardware store or supermarket can be a fun match activity.
Staff provide on-going supervision for the entire length of the match. While a one year commitment is required of each volunteer, many matches continue beyond this one year time frame. Mentors are asked to provide a steady friendship while respecting the important role played by parents/guardians. Mentors will get to know the child individually and provide an opportunity for the child to learn about the world and to develop interests and skills.
Family Support and Empowerment
The program provides supportive services including counseling, advocacy, and parenting support for students’ families. A licensed social worker directs the program and connects families with community resources.
Community Involvement and Group Activities
Mentors and kids are encouraged to learn and explore the world as a place with many possibilities. The Saratoga Mentoring Program organizes projects involving community members, mentors, youth and families. These partnerships provide youth with a wide range of experiences and expose them to a variety of people involved in civic organizations and institutions.
Mentors are invited to all kinds of group activities sponsored by the Saratoga Mentoring Program. These include: Pizza parties, workshops on arts and crafts, trips to sports events, museums and concerts. There is usually no cost to the mentors for these outings.
We provide free passes and gift certificates for our mentors whenever possible.
The Saratoga Mentoring Program works to meet the needs of kids who are growing up with risk factors in their lives. These risk factors may include such problems as family financial problems, disability of a family member, incarceration of a parent, academic problems, illness in the family or other factors. The parents/guardians are grateful to mentors who can provide positive one to one attention for the child and a chance for the child to go out and enjoy some of the fun activities available in Saratoga. Participation in the program is voluntary; both the child and the parent/guardian must be motivated for the child to be matched with a mentor.
The Benefits of Mentoring
Success comes in the form of:
- increased confidence, self esteem and competence;
- increased personal awareness of interests and abilities;
- improved attendance in school;
- increased sense of civic pride;
- a healthy mentoring relationship of friendship, encouragement and support.
The Mentoring Program respects the differences among children as individuals. We encourage children and their families to construct their own personal goals and objectives. The role of the mentor is not to set goals but to be a listener and supportive person in the child’s life. The main goal for a mentor is to find interesting activities and to work on developing a good bond with the child, one which will encourage openness and a relaxed setting for both.