- What is a mentor?
A mentor can be defined as safe, adult friend who is a good role model. They are usually viewed as more experienced and stable; an individual who seeks to further the development of character and competence in a younger person and helps them to build confidence and improve self-esteem. These one-on-one primary relationships are focused on having fun and positive youth development.
- Why do youth need mentors and role models?
The children and young adults who are involved with our services typically have very few appropriate adults in their lives. Many of the youth referred to this program have had unstable home lives and/or unfortunate events or stress with family relationships. Some of these children may be in foster or adoptive homes or in their family of origin.
- What does it take to be a OASIS mentor?
We ask that you are willing to commit to a one-year relationship with a child and act as a positive role model. All volunteers will be required to go through an interview process and background check and seven hours of orientation and training. Long-term relationships (a school year or longer) are important because it takes time to develop trust between the youth and the adult, and because the typical mentee has experienced a lot of losses already and may have had a lack of consistent and caring adult relationships. Studies show that 3 or more hours a week is optimal for developing a good mentoring relationship.
- How does the matching process work?
The best matches are made by looking at the needs and interests of both you (the volunteer) and the child. In this way, the caring volunteer and a child at risk can develop a good relationship that leads to open and honest communication and trust. An emphasis is placed on the volunteer being able to listen and possibly help the child with positive choices which will likely improve their social and family relationships. The match is ultimately made by the caseworker and the coordinator, with the volunteer and the parents/caregivers in the child's home. The coordinator explains the parameters of the program and a release for transportation and an agreement of commitment is signed by all parties.
- How old are the children who
are served through the OASIS Mentoring Program?
This program serves school-aged youth who are between 8 and 18 years old and young parents who are involved with the Children, Youth & Family Division.
- What types of activities will
I be involved in with the youth I am matched with?
The actual activities vary greatly and are often left up to your own creativity. We discuss appropriateness of activities during the training; we prefer that you do activities outside the child's and your home, however approval to meet in your home can be granted after 3 months and require a home visit by the coordinator. Spouses and other adult family members may also be required to submit to a background screening. Some examples include biking, exercising, baking, taking walks, art projects, utilizing the Boys and Girls Club, or taking the youth to a class. For older youth, activities may be of practical assistance to the youth like learning to fill out a job application or to applying to schools or classes. The Volunteer Program provides 2 activites per month to the mentor who communicates regularly. The activities don't have to cost a lot of money, the main idea is to have fun building the relationship. Out of town activities are not recommended early in the relationship, but may be acceptable later when discussed with the program coordinator, the case worker and the parent/care-giver. The volunteer who transports youth must have proof of current car insurance and a good driving record.
- Will I get training and support
while I'm involved in OASIS mentoring activities?
Yes. All mentors, volunteers, and interns will participate in education and training activities before being assigned with a volunteer activity. This seven hour process introduces the volunteer to the CYF programs, informs the volunteer about the Department of Human Services and teaches about mentoring best practices and tips. It continues with information on the current and possible issues that our youth and families are experiencing. Topics that are covered include Positive Youth Development, Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Violence, Cultural Issues, Stages of Child Development, and Stages of a Relationship, Establishing Healthy Boundaries and Safety. Volunteers will also have access to on-going support and training groups, a quarterly newsletter as well as monthly email and phone contact with the staff involved in the case and the Oasis coordinator.
- What is positive youth development
and why it is so important?
Positive youth development focuses on viewing our youth as a resource. We agree that youth have strengths and all of them experience some difficulties as they transition into adulthood. We encourage them to develop leadership skills, with positive interaction with peers and other adults, and promote their community involvement. The Family and Youth Services Bureau identified four ingredients necessary for positive youth development which include: a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and a sense of "power of self". A focus on positive youth development is designed to bring about healthy outcomes for young people and to connect them to their community in a productive and successful way.
- How do I learn more about the OASIS Mentoring Program?
For more information, please email Christina Ulrich-Jones
, Coordinator Volunteer, or call her at (970) 980-2239. The three hour volunteer orientations take place at least once every other month and are free of charge and at no obligation.