For the past year and a half Family and Youth Initiatives has been encouraging adults to be mentors. They have been giving each volunteer a middle or high school teen to take into their hearts and help them through the ‘perils’ of teenage years and both encourage and role model to them how to be an adult with character. They show them in some many ways the worth each of the teens is to not only this community, but to their families, to their friends, and especially to themselves. But is it worth it? Are we, as a community, just overindulging our teens with too much attention and why aren’t they more responsible and with much respect for all of us adults? Why should we care so much?
As we look at the changes in society today, we see a vast difference between when I grew up in the 1960’s and 2017. We were the rebels then—full of passion for either civil rights, opinions on the “war in Vietnam” or even drugs like marijuana or LSD. But we did not have massive welfare that would take care of us; we had prayer, even in school, and we knew that there was someone a lot mightier than all of us that was watching over us.
Some of us had parents who would be called abusive in today’s society, but we called it strict discipline and lived with it. We did not talk to our parents, but many of us had youth groups, grandparents, aunts and uncles to talk to about our worries about becoming adults and how to reach our long term goals. And, though it was still a life fraught with good and bad choices, somehow most of us made it through and found our way in life.
Fast forward the time and come back to today’s world. Look at our teens today. Today, the world is full of bad choices—just like the days of yesteryear. Today, teens have the choices to do drugs, just like in the 60’s but today’s drugs are laced with other drugs that can and do kill these teens, just struggling to be away from the reality of their real life for just a few hours. Today we have epidemic levels on both overdoses and deaths. Understand the parent who told me he was bringing his 8 year old daughter home from a soceer game one night and they were stopped 2 streets away from their house by a man laying in the middle of the street getting Narcan for his overdose of heroin. Take the parents who found their daughter slumped over the steering wheel of her car dead. And take the 5 year old who was found in a parking lot a school parking lots quieting waiting for his mom who had overdosed while picking him up from school. Do we need someone who cannot protect our children from these true stories, but who can be there to ‘love’ them by listening to them, by telling them they, the child, still is important to the community and who can focus them on ways to become a responsible caring adult, despite their dysfunctional home life.
One of our young teens was forever late to her meetings with her mentor. She would either cancel or just not show for their appointments and the mentor was very discouraged. Why did the girl even think of wanting a mentor—she was obviously not responsible? Why the mentor asked should she bother her time with a girl who was incorrigible? And our director, Julie, told her to try one last time before we gave her another teen. And so, on their last meeting, the mentor asked this girl, why did she even want a mentor—what did she want out of their relationship? The 13 year old looked at her and said, “I just want a friend.” “I have no one to talk to—I am useless to this world. I just want a friend.”
With all the suicides, drug overdoses, and so many high risk behaviors with teens now days, these words from the mind of one still so young are very telling remarks about where our teens are at in today’s world. And as that teen hung on to her mentor and went on to talk about her home life and her view of her reality today, the mentor told us that now she knew why she had that particular girl. And we, at FYI, know why we have to keep recruiting for new mentors to help our many youth who just need a caring heart to listen to them.
Family and Youth is presently recruiting for more mentors for our youth. You do not need a degree—you do not even need to be a parent yourself—you just need a caring heart and a desire to help our youth grow into adults with character and love of community—to make them able to refuse those things that could hurt them, such as drugs, and to know that this community cares about them for the people they are. Even if they are the rebels of today—they are God’s children!!
Today, we have three programs at Tecumseh designed to help the youth get the mentor to help them the most. We still have over 50 youth waiting for a personal mentor to help shepherd them to adulthood. Will you be the adult whose mentee would have committed a horrible crime if he had not been mentored by you? Will you be the one whose love and understanding allow your mentee rise about the odds and becomes the doctor who cures cancer? Or will you be the one who thinks you can do none of this work and just watches the statistics grow in the paper and more youth are killed by stronger and stronger drugs every DAY? Please, if you care about our community, call Pat today at 845-0403 and volunteer today—you will never regret it!! Our youth are looking for you—Will you answer the call to serve?