National Mentoring Month: Bringing foster youth caring consistency

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - January is National Mentoring Month exploring ways for you to give back to the community through families and children in need.

FOX 17 has had an overwhelming response from viewers, and asking how they can help after being introduced to the incredible foster children in our Forever Home series.

As many of those children continue the journey of being adopted into forever homes, there are many more just looking for that one person who cares.
That can be done through mentoring.

“They’re typical kids but the circumstances they’re living in make it a little more challenging,” Social worker Stephanie Sheler said. “The volunteer sort of fills that need, fills the gap maybe helps the child access resources or be exposed to things that he or she isn’t typically exposed to.”

D.A. Blodgett has a Big Brothers Big Sisters program where adults 18 and older can be paired with a foster child or any other child in need of guidance.
“That consistency says a lot to a child about how much someone cares and that’s what we ask our volunteers to provide that weekly consistency of contact,” Sheler said.

There are more than 300 children in Kent and Ottawa County looking for that person of hope, which can be community based like going to sporting events or baking cookies. The mentoring can also be school based where the mentor meets the child in school for extra help.

“We also see changes in their behavior at school, sometimes in their academic accomplishments at school,” Sheler said. “Sometimes we positive changes in their behavior or level of responsibility.”

D.A. Blodgett also features a `Sisters in Support` program. Young moms who are looking for a supportive person in their lives.

“What we’re really looking for is somebody who has a heart for young moms and children and wants to spend time with a young mom and wants to give back somehow and wants to help that young mom with whatever her goals are,” Sheler said.

It’s a program that has helped Quanette Brown and her three kids.

“She helps me tons, she’s so wonderful my kids love her,” Brown said of her mentor. “She helped me fix my resume to help find a job, she’s helped with budgeting my finances and stuff to help me get back on my feet and looking for a house, she`s there to help me out whenever I need.”

The 'Sisters in Support' program is searching for women volunteers within the ages of 24 years and older,  big brothers and big sister volunteers who are 18 year and older.

It’s a chance to give back to the community through the gift of time and providing hope, encouragement, and love for those who need it most.
If you’re interest in becoming a mentor call D.A. Blodgett at (616) 451-2021.

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