HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Volunteer mentors are being sought to assist Bergen County youth who have been removed from neglectful home environments.
Each year in Bergen County approximately 600 children are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other factors that place them at risk of harm, according to the Bergen Volunteer Center. These children are placed in foster homes, residential facilities, hospitals, shelters or in the care of other family members.
The Bergen Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Youth program is recruiting volunteer mentors to work one-on-one with youth between the ages of 5-18 who are facing difficult challenges.
Mentors serve as positive role models; provide guidance, friendship and support; and advocate on behalf of youth when called upon to do so.
The next three-week Mentoring Youth training will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Each session is held from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Bergen Volunteer Center, 64 Passaic St., Hackensack.
“Volunteers in the Mentoring Youth program improve the lives and experiences of children who need someone they can trust, someone to show them they are not alone,” says Lynne Algrant, Volunteer Center CEO. “There is an especially great need for men to mentor boys and for bi-lingual, Spanish-speaking mentors of both genders. There are not nearly enough volunteers enrolled so far.”
According to a study by Big Brothers/Big Sisters, youth who regularly meet with a mentor are 52 percent less likely than peers to skip school and 46 percent less likely to use drugs. Additionally, they are 33 percent less likely to hit someone or to start drinking.
“These children are waiting for someone to step in and to believe in them, to encourage them to laugh and to succeed,” says Dr. Faith Samples-Smart, Mentoring Youth Program Director. “We consider time spent with mentors as free time: free of the challenges children confront in their daily environments at home and/or at school. What a gift to have this respite and safe zone with a caring adult.”
Applicants are required to undergo a comprehensive background check and must obtain written letters recommendation as part of the training course.
Click here for more information or contact Eva Tobias at (201) 489-9454 x-209.
In 2016, the Bergen Volunteer Center will celebrate 50 years of service.
For more than 30 years, Mentoring Youth has trained and supervised adult volunteers to serve as mentors to children who are confronting adverse social, emotional and/or behavioral challenges at home or in their daily lives.
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