FYI Mentoring Program teams up with CoHatch
During the throes of an isolating pandemic, FYI added a new Mentoring Program Initiative that is already impacting struggling Clark County teens and their families.
FYI recently entered into an agreement with COHatch The Market to rent meeting space at a discounted rate. Our Mentoring Program is using that space to birth an evening group initiative that equips troubled teens with transformational relationship, decision-making and coping skills.
Prior to COVID-19, the Mentoring Program only met with students through schools on their campuses during school hours. Then the pandemic hit, which shut down schools and shut FYI out as well. It even slowed the progress of our ultra-successful new PATH program at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. So a pivot was needed.
“This team has revamped our program in such creative ways, mainly with the thinking, ‘We’ve got to reach these kids; we can’t let them fall through the cracks,’” said FYI Executive Director Nikki Stefanow. “We had these mentors who wanted to get to these kids, but had no place for them to meet. Now we’re meeting them where they are at.”
The group includes teens from initiatives like the new Dually Involved Youth (DIY) program, launched by Clark County Department of Jobs and Family Services through the JDC. DIY is designed to address the needs of progressively at-risk children who are involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In this way, FYI fulfills the educational and social services requirements of the program for these impressionable youths.
Mentoring Program Co-Coordinator Julie Driskill spoke about one example of impact.
“This grandma who has 13 grandchildren brought her granddaughter a couple of weeks ago and thought it was just another place she was told to come and try,” she said. “She was just so tired and weary trying to help her grandchildren. But they saw right away what we were doing and by the end of her first session, she liked it so much, she asked if she could bring her daughter and two other grandchildren the next week.”
That speaks to the fact that this new initiative helps not just the teen, but also the teen’s family - and stresses that they can accomplish more if they work together.
“The key is having the family unit work together instead of against each other,” said Mentoring Program Co-Director Bryan Moore. “They learn how to communicate on a level where they can understand each other. You have that age difference, and that can stop communication.This program helps break down some barriers that create dysfunction in the household.”
During or after completing the eight-week group session, the teen is assigned an adult mentor who provides further ongoing support and encouragement.
COHatch was glad to assist, seeing as it falls within the scope of its community focus through its Give Scholarship Program.
“COHatch's mission extends far beyond work, meet and live,” said Rachel Williams, COHatch’s Community Manager. “COhatch strives to have an impact within local communities in which they are located. COHatch created the Give Scholarship Program to allow local non-profits to do what they do best by sharing their knowledge, offer volunteer opportunities, inspire those around us, while utilizing the COHatch community to make their impact,” she added.
Greenon Mentoring Coordinator Staci Sowders has already become the mentor for one of the granddaughters.
“She is very full of life - an outgoing person,” Staci said. “I think she just needs a positive influence from an adult outside of her family, one who can show her that she has great value. I want to help her find her place in life, to help her get to where she wants to go and become who she wants to be.”
Programs like this are getting noticed by other local social service providers, like Community Health Foundation Program Coordinator Joan Elder.
“She told us she was excited to see how our organization is making a difference,” Nikki said. “For them to give us positive feedback like that for the first time was really cool, because they are one of our partners. I think of how many organizations haven’t been able to do anything. Some haven’t even been able to stay open. Our numbers are down from the past, but the ones we are reaching are making significant progress.”
That provides hope where there was none.
“Overall, our goal is to let these people we get to mentor know that there is hope,” Bryan said. “That they don’t have to go back to the same environment without the tools to deal with their daily struggles. We can’t fix everybody, we know that. But we’re there to give them hope and provide them with the tools and resources that can make a difference in their life.”
To learn more about FYI’s mentoring program or to become a mentor, call (937) 845-0403 or visit www.fyiohio.org/mentoring-program.