4Results' mentors are trained to help children develop long-lasting, trusting relationships. In some cases, the mentor is the only person not paid to be in a child's life. Imagine the impact on a child's life when he discovers that his mentor is not paid to spend time with him. The mentor does not have to be his friend; the child does not have to work on performance-based tasks. The mentor spends time with the child because he wants to. That places a value on the child that he may not have experienced before. Thus, it is no wonder that the mentoring relationship can reach deeper than any other intervention alone.
"Because I've had someone consistent in my life, who has been there as a friend and encourager, I've become a more positive person," says Evan, who has received Youth Achievement Awards from the community for citizenship and community service. Phil was selected as the National Mentor of the Year in 2006 by MentorYouth.com, a collaboration of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, the National Network of Youth Ministries, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Another of 4Results' mentor pairs has received recognition recently as Outstanding Mentor/Mentee Pair in 2007 by the Washington State Mentors. The mentor, Rick Collins, and his friend, Jordan Workman, will spend a game day with Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Nate McMillan, attend the game day shoot around, have lunch with coaches and players, tour the Rose Garden, and have VIP seating at the game. Rick and Jordan were matched four years ago when Jordan said he needed "a guy who's good to me and listens to what I'm saying."
4Results has entered the final year of the Department of Education grant and is working on building a sustainability board to continue support for 4Results. 4Results' goal is to develop a ten-year plan that includes a formal evaluation and research activities useful to the mentoring field. Research in the mentoring field is limited and does not include at-risk populations.
4Results has a seven-year history of working with kids who exhibit acting out or dangerous behavior at home or school, but youths involved in 4Results have not done so when with their mentors. The youths were interviewed by the Institute for Community Inclusion (at the University of Massachusetts Boston), which reported, "Students often seemed clearly conflicted about their behavior and their time with their mentor released them from their own cycles of misbehavior and punishment and was a relief to them." 4Results believes that behavioral issues are a result of unmet needs, which stem from loneliness and isolation. Yet when a child is with his mentor, he is no longer lonely or isolated. He is with someone who wants to be with him, someone actively engaging and listening to him.
In conclusion, I leave you with the words of nationally prominent youth care trainer Charlie Appelstein, MSW: "I recently had the good fortune of spending some quality time with 4Results mentors and was deeply impressed with their passion for providing meaningful connections in the lives of at-risk youth. Many of these kids are lonely, riddled with self-doubt, have low self-esteem and have lost hope for a better life. A mentor who truly believes in the goodness and strengths of an at-risk youth can change all of this."
Elizabeth Higley is Program Coordinator of 4Results Mentoring at Columbia River Mental Health Services in Vancouver, Washington.