Julie began volunteering in Family Services’ Stand & Deliver program in 2016. While working at Raytheon Technologies, she donates time each week to academically mentor a Greater Lawrence Technical School student. Julie first met her mentee, Briannalys, in 2019 when she was a sophomore. Since then, they have met weekly throughout each school year.
Julie and Briannalys embody what a thriving and fulfilling mentoring relationship can be like. When asked what makes them a great match, Julie says, “I think the fact that we genuinely care about each other’s lives is important.” Briannalys and Julie feel connected to one another beyond academic discussions, celebrating one another’s life events and sharing photos. Julie says, “I send pictures of my daughter’s cat, Princess Leia, and Briannalys sends me pictures of her guinea pigs. And I love to hear about her nephew when he visits her!”
The support extends within Julie’s family as well. She shares how her daughter offered ideas for one of Briannalys’ college essays, and that her husband once rescued them from a technology glitch while they worked remotely on a school assignment. The mentor-mentee relationship was enhanced when Julie was able to meet Briannalys’ family last summer at Stand & Deliver’s year-end celebration.
Briannalys is currently in an exciting college application process. Julie continues to assist with her academic pursuits, including receiving input from her guidance counselor on how to best support the college application process. Briannalys plans to pursue studies in architecture and civil engineering, and she is well on her way! She has been accepted to Merrimack College and awaits good news from Cornell, Brown, UMass Lowell, Wellesley, and Wentworth!
Chris and Manu first met in March 2020 when they were matched as mentor & mentee with Family Services’ Big Friends Little Friends program. Although they met at the beginning of a pandemic shutdown, they did not let that stand in the way of getting to know one another and building a relationship. They have been friends ever since!
Manu is in sixth grade and lives with his mother, Danielle, and sisters. Manu hadn’t had a healthy male role model in his life, and although he was connected to several supportive female role models, his mom knew the additional benefits that a male mentor provides. Danielle really wanted Manu to have the experience of a confidant, a great listener, a guide, and a friend. She also wanted Manu to have more fun times being a carefree kid.
Our Match Support Coordinator, Valorie Faretra, shares that Chris and Manu consistently got together during the pandemic, often when it would have been ‘easier’ to simply stay at home. Chris shares that he and Manu “enjoy our time together. Lately we have been making food like popcorn, hummus, and guacamole. Manu is a good cook! We’ll also go to the park across the street and play football and basketball or spend some time just hanging out and playing video games.” Chris and Manu have also attended a Celtics game in November 2021, courtesy of a great collaboration between Shamrock Dreams and Mass Mentoring Partnership.
Danielle reflected that “watching [Manu] have a mentor like Chris has been absolutely life changing for Manu. It has also given me hope that he will see that there are other ways to grow up.” She goes on to add, “Manu really cherishes his time with Chris. He always asks when he is going to see him next. He is definitely having fun.” Also, with all the ups and downs of virtual schooling and the impacts of the pandemic, Danielle is certain that having Chris as a stable role model has been very important and helpful!
Family Services is looking for more adult volunteers to mentor in its Big Friends Little Friends program. Interested? Apply HERE.
For some students, college can seem like a distant dream, even when it’s literally right down the street. To bring young people closer to fulfilling their dream of higher education, Family Services’ Stand & Deliver program took a group of 20 students from Lawrence High School and the Greater Lawrence Technical School to visit Merrimack College. Students toured the campus, talked with current students, and got a better understanding of the college application and financial aid process.
Family Services’ Stand & Deliver academic mentoring program kicked off its new school year program last month with 66 matches! We are so pleased to partner with four companies (Raytheon, New Balance, Pfizer and Schneider Electric) and three schools (Lawrence Technical High School, Lawrence High School and the Bruce School), matching students with adult mentors who can help inspire academic achievement and professional success.
Recently, mentors and students got together for some much needed in person time to meet one another, enjoy some pizza, play a few fun games, and make plans for their weekly virtual academic mentoring sessions for the rest of the school year. We can’t wait to see how much these matches grow between now and May.
Family Services is pleased to announce that it has received a grant of $10,000 from the Massachusetts Service Alliance to recruit at Latinx bilingual volunteers as mentors for it’s Big Friends Little Friends mentoring program.
Family Services’ Big Friends Little Friends program supports over 100 matches between volunteer mentors and youth , the majority of which come from Latinx families from Lawrence and surrounding communities. Dr. Dolores C Calaf, EdD, Volunteer Coordinator for the program, has been working with a group of Latinx volunteers who have been helping with a new promotion and marketing campaign in Spanish. The campaign consists of five strategies: 1) identify community stakeholders, 2) conduct community forums to understand the needs of Latinx youth, 3) develop an outreach work plan to engage adult Latinx mentors, 4) develop outreach materials and strategies in Spanish, 5) assess effectiveness of outreach strategies and modify activities as needed. The working committee members represent different areas of services including local business owners, educational, social services, and healthcare professionals as well as two state legislators.
“We are so pleased to be partnering with the Massachusetts Service Alliance to enhance our ability to match youth in our community with mentors who share their language and cultural identity,” said Aida Castro, Director of Community Support Services. “And we’re thrilled that so many volunteers have joined us to get this initiative off the ground, especially during this difficult time”, concluded her.
Family Services is a leading provider of comprehensive social services located in Lawrence, MA. The agency is committed to helping children and families build a better life by offering services in youth development, parent education and mental health and wellness. Rooted in compassion and respect for the diverse population it serves, Family Services helps over 7,000 people from throughout the Merrimack Valley each year. All services are based upon hope and the possibility that with support, individuals can thrive within their family, school, workplace, and community.
For more information or if you are interested in become a Latinx bilingual mentor, contact Dr. Dolores Calaf at 978-314-3125 or email her at [email protected]