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Heroes for Kids, Male Mentors in High Demand In Bergen County

Male mentors are needed to provide stability and be role models for at-risk youths.
Male mentors are needed to provide stability and be role models for at-risk youths. Photo Credit: Volunteer Center of Bergen County

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. -- The Heroes for Kids program is in need of male mentors, which are in high demand.

Local boys and girls who have been referred to the Bergen Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Youth program are confronted with adverse challenges at home and in life and are experiencing social, emotional and behavioral problems.

For more than 30 years, the program has trained and supervised adult volunteers to serve as mentors to children ages 5-18. Mentors serve as positive role models, provide guidance, friendship and support and advocate on behalf of children when necessary.

The next three-week Mentoring Youth training program begins Wednesday, Jan. 27. Sessions are from 7-9:30 p.m. on consecutive Wednesdays, and trainees must attend all sessions, which are at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, 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,” said Lynne Algrant, the volunteer center's CEO. “There is an especially great need for men to mentor boys and for bilingual, Spanish-speaking mentors of both genders.”

“These children are waiting for someone to step in and believe in them, to encourage them to laugh and succeed,” said Faith Samples-Smart, director of the Mentoring Youth program.

Mentors show children a different perspective, expose them to unexplored opportunities and help them build trust. 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. By sharing fun activities and exposing a youth to new experiences, mentors encourage positive choices, promote high self-esteem, support academic achievement and introduce young people to new ideas.

Applicants are required to undergo a comprehensive background check and must obtain written letters of recommendation as part of the training course.

For more information about the program, please contact Eva Tobias at (201) 489-9454 Ext. 209 or visit www.bergenvolunteers.org and click on mentoring programs.

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