"Help another person through a tough patch. That was the task and main reward from my mentoring experience. It came with comradeship that's hard to find these days. Most weeks we'd meet for an hour or so. After some months we'd connect by telephone. Mentoring taught me the importance of luck, and how nearly-forgotten experiences can be valuable to others. I encourage you to try mentoring. FOCUS will teach you the skills you need, and mentoring will teach you about the world and about yourself."
- Larry, Focus Volunteer Mentor
"My mentee and I were matched because she wanted a mentor who was a mom. As a mom of two teen boys, I could relate to her deep desire to be a good mother to her young sons. She had her youngest son only months before her latest incarceration and he now was in foster care with her friends. Her goals were to stay clean off meth and alcohol, get a job and her own place and then get her son back into her custody. We met three times in jail before she was released. On a rainy April day, she was released with only a small window of time before she had to report for work release. After a warm breakfast, we drove frantically around town getting her clothes, food, hygiene items, a visit with her mother to get money and to work release. My weekly visits at work release were filled with thrift store visits, finding a bike and a lot of emotional support. Despite heavy odds against her, she graduated from work release. I picked her up and took her to her mother’s home, the only place she had to stay. In the past, my mentee and her mother could not live together more than 24hrs, but now two years later, she is still living there. During and after work release, my mentee had family court each month. I attended every court case she had for over eight months and was the only friend she had in the court house. Together we walked through the extremely difficult hearings, and the final loss of her son to foster care.
Knowing if a person received a second chance can sometimes be hard to ascertain. Yet, my role as a mentor and friend was definitely needed in multiple high risk situations. My mentee had no one safe nor available to take care to get her basic needs met when she was released. During the difficult stresses of work release and court dates, she had my support, guidance, help and encouragement. She stayed clean, even when she received the devastating news that she lost her son. She later graduated from an 18 month parole and did not relapse during that time. By the end of a two year friendship, I knew her well. There were no family or friends able to stand by her and freely give unconditional love and support as I could. So, if a second chance is what you receive when you are given that, then I do believe she received one.
-Beth Mazzola, Focus Volunteer Mentor