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Mentoring for Success program helping Durham youth fill the gap

Just a couple of hours a month can go a long way in helping a youth who may be in the foster system.

That’s why the Durham Children’s Aid Foundation has teamed up with another non-profit to re-launch a mentorship program.

Peter, whose last name Global News agreed not to use for privacy reasons, said he is now on his feet, flourishing, living on his own but 12 years ago he went into foster care.

“I was going into Grade 5, so there was a lot of things going on, new move, new school, new city or town, so a lot of new change,” said the 21-year-old.

Peter’s been through a lot in his lifetime. He says he was always looking for that person he could rely on and trust. Four years ago he found that with a mentor.

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“You need them in the middle of the night, 8 a.m., 9 a.m., they’re one call away and you know that and they always remind you don’t hesitate because the biggest thing is being lost in a situation and you have no one to go to,” said Peter.

It’s all part of a Mentoring for Success Program, Durham Children’s Aid Foundation has teamed up with non-profit Their Opportunity to help fill in the gap in services for youth in foster care or aging out of programming.

“This is a person that’s not paid, not part of their service team, just someone that wants to be there for them,” said Jacqueline Vieira, Durham Children’s Aid Foundation Mentoring for Success co-ordinator.

Since the program was re-launched eight months ago after falling by the wayside for several months, there are now 20 matches.

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“I grew up without a father around and so I wanted to get involved with this program and give back as people had given to me when I was their age,” said Matt Janes, one of the new mentors.

Janes has been doing this now for two months. While it’s been challenging to connect because of the pandemic and provincial COVID-19 restrictions, he says they have been able to do a few things.

“I can be a sounding board, that I can be someone who listens to the things that these youth are going through and from drawing on my own experience in life, be able to share some of the things that maybe I did that got me through some of these difficult times,” said Janes.

The need for mentors is always there. While the Mentoring for Success program is a two-year commitment, officials hope it turns into a lifelong relationship.

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