At Children’s Hope Residential Services, Volunteers and Mentors are MVPs. They provide resources to the staff and children that would otherwise not be available. Their enthusiasm and care are sources of comfort to everyone within their contact. For the children at Children’s Hope, Volunteers and Mentors perform several important functions. They increase children’s self-esteem, provide examples of positive relationships, and serve as all around role models. For some children, the mentor is the one person they call on a weekly basis to talk about their lives, challenges, and successes.
Mentors and Volunteers boost children’s self-esteem because children know that the mentor wants to be there. Children understand that our volunteers do not receive any compensation for time. To a child, a volunteer is someone who participates because they genuinely care. That translates to a child’s belief that they are worthy of care. Children’s eyes light up when they learn that their mentors are on site for a visit or on the phone for a call. They look forward to telling their mentors everything from the latest joke they heard to their recent grades in school. On visits, they often play games on the playground or play board games while they talk about their week.
During phone calls and visits, conversations and interactions with mentors and volunteers allow children to learn how to interact in a child-adult relationship. Children learn important social cues, contexts for behavior, and conversation skills. This is crucial to the Children’s Hope kids, as many have only had previous negative child-adult relationship experiences. Through Volunteers and Mentors, children learn that there are healthier patterns of interactions with adults. Volunteers and Mentors teach through modeling acceptable verbal and body language, topics of conversation, and appropriate activities for kids to engage in with adults.
Volunteers serve as general role models by being upstanding citizens, having specific skillsets, careers, and talents that they can share with the children at Children’s Hope. This is important, because for many kids, the volunteer or mentor is the only adult outside of Children’s Hope Staff that the child interacts with on a regular basis. Many of the children that receive a mentor do not have family they can rely on. While not family, the volunteer or mentor takes on a role similar to a parent, providing encouragement and positive reinforcement for good behavior, and being a person the child can look up to.
Mentors and Volunteers are special members of the team at Children’s Hope. They boost children’s sense of self-worth, help practice social skills, and are great role models. While they don’t receive any formal compensation from Children’s Hope, their reward is watching the kids at Children’s Hope grow into themselves, flourish, and just simply be children. There is nothing more rewarding.