Friendship as deep as family is how Cindy Roberts, a mentor volunteer at Youth Moving On (YMO), described her seven-year relationship with Jammie Peterson on NBC 4’s television series, “Life Connected,” featuring individuals who pay it forward. Cindy’s effect on Jammie has been profound and points to the indispensable role volunteers have on the children and youth we serve at Hillsides.
For Cindy, mentoring at YMO was her way to give back after finishing cancer treatment. At YMO she was introduced to Jammie who, at that time, was living in the supportive housing program. A friendship developed, and Cindy has served as a role model for her ever since. Now, in her own way, Jammie models for another generation of vulnerable children and youth that in spite of challenges much can be accomplished.
For youth at YMO, mentors like Cindy are essential. Always present to support and encourage, Cindy went beyond the usual mentor relationship by establishing a profound friendship with Jammie, welcoming her into her home, and serving as a faithful friend celebrating Jammie’s many achievements.
Even more extraordinary is that Cindy is a cancer survivor. Like many who have confronted their own immortality, perspective changes, nothing is taken for granted, and every opportunity is seized. Cindy’s commitment to Jammie is a testimony of her dedication and intent to make a difference.
Like Jammie, we have about 40 young people who are being served at YMO through various programs. These youth could benefit from a mentor–someone who can focus on them, interact without judgment, support unconditionally, and encourage consistently.
Often we underestimate what can be accomplished for foster youth who are striving for independence. As Thomas Lee, the division director of transition-aged youth services, mentioned in the television segment, the road to independence can be daunting for these young people. As much as we might understand the challenge and be empathetic, what these youth need more than anything else are people who can help them dream and patiently guide them as they set a direction to achieve it. These people would serve as mentors who genuinely believe in their potential.
Cindy was that person for Jammie and, as a result, they have become part of one another’s lives…truly life connected. Would you consider being a mentor? Could you give your time and energy to support one of our many young adults? The challenges are great, but the rewards can be life changing. Contact Thomas Lee at 626-765-6956 for more information on how you can become a mentor.