NEWBERG — A Christ-centered social service agency here is looking to the Christian community for a special boost in meeting the needs of at-risk teenagers.
Chehalem Youth and Family Services (CYFS) has partnered with the Yamhill County Commission on Children and Families and Yamhill County Health and Human Services’ Family and Youth Program to develop a Mentoring Hub Program to provide research-based mentoring to at-risk youth ages 13-18 in the county’s seven school districts.
Under the program launched in November 2011, the districts’ mentoring coordinators recruit, manage and supervise local mentors and help identify youth who would benefit from a mentor-mentee relationship. Currently 30 mentors are matched with youth, and more are sought.
Keisha Gordon, the program’s manager, said the program aims to bring positive adult influences into the teens’ lives.
“We stand behind the idea that one of the most important factors in helping youth is that they have an ongoing relationship with a caring adult,” she said. “These adult volunteers commit to support guide, and being a friend to a young person for a period of at least a year. In turn, mentors help youth develop and reach positive academic, career and personal goals.”
Gordon said studies show high-quality mentoring promotes positive behaviors and attitudes including better academic performance and school attendance, a decreased likelihood of drug and alcohol use, fewer violent actions, an ability to better handle conflict, and fewer instances of arrest.
“We believe that mentoring is essential,” said Gordon. “We continually want to be proactive to help kids with life’s obstacles and to help them reach their potential.”
Deborah Cathers-Seymour, CYFS executive director, said the mentoring opportunity is a good fit for the Christian community. “The local Christian community feels a particular calling to reach out, to lift up and encourage those in need,” she said.
“Many young people of all ages become discouraged and isolated in facing their life challenges. Be it school, peer relationships, or family difficulties. A one-year mentoring relationship has been proven to be effective in making a lifelong difference in the outlook for youth. It impacts and averts dropout rates, drug use and criminal behavior.”
“Pastors can help by encouraging their congregation to serve as mentors,” she added.
For more information contact Gordon at 360-609-6989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.