Do you feel the mentoring work that Family & Youth Initiatives has done for years is vitally important to the success of our local underserved students and young parents? If you do, you are in great company. Because so does the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine.
He expressed his burning passion for mentoring during a recent visit to Springfield for a meeting with Clark County non-profit and church leaders. In response to a question about the effectiveness of mentoring children, he said: “When somebody doesn’t have a mentor in their life, you’ve got a big problem. Matching people up one-on-one with a mentor, there is nothing better.”
The Springfield native also expressed the same concern for the state’s young parents and the growing challenges they are facing in our culture. The Parenting Network, with offices in Springfield, Fairborn and New Carlisle, has been FYI’s program that trains young parents for over four decades. We teach them how to be more effective in not just parenting, but running and sustaining a household, while providing material assistance for those struggling to make ends meet.
“When I was in the state senate, we focused on K to 12,” said DeWine about the history of the state’s focus on helping families. “But from birth to age 5, we’ve got to really focus on that problem.”
DeWine was especially passionate about helping first-time parents, the main demographic FYI serves.
“We need somebody to start visiting with that mother to teach her about nutrition, get her to the doctor,” he said. “Then after that child is born, it is working with that mom to teach her why it is important (to do things like read with their child). What we need to do is help all that we can.”
DeWine and his wife Fran have been long-time friends with FYI co-founder and co-executive director Pat Banaszak.
“I met Mike when he was first running for office, and he is a long-time friend of FYI. In fact, our conference room (at the FYI office in New Carlisle) is named after his daughter Becky,” said Banaszak. “I felt then he was very much a family man who understood and believed in the same vision I have for families.
“In 1980, when we went to Washington D.C. as a pro life group for a March For Life event and he was serving in Congress, he put about 30 of us up in his home,” she continued. “He is always for families, understanding the challenges families have, especially those who do not have the economic power to get out of poverty. He has always worked hard to help them to stay together as a family.”
If you’d like to join FYI and DeWine in helping families and their children and would like to volunteer to be a mentor, or in any other capacity, please give us a call at (937) 845-0403.