As kids go back to school, Father Joe’s Villages’ Mentoring and Tutoring Program works to deliver a fun learning environment and provide role models to children in need.
With children heading back to school, Father Joe’s Villages’ mentoring and tutoring program serving students whose families are homeless, moves into high gear.
“Mentoring is an opportunity for children to develop healthy relationships with adults while increasing their academic skills,” said Therapeutic Childcare Program Manager, Jennifer Ryan. The program pairs school-age children with volunteer mentors who help them gain success in school.
“These relationships are more than just academics. To be successful in school children have to also feel confident in themselves. Children gain this confidence when they feel like they matter to the world and the people in it.”
Studies have shown that at-risk youths with mentors are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.
Parents struggling with the challenges of homelessness often don’t have time to focus on essential tasks like homework and studying. This is where Family Literacy Coordinator Jayne Gongol and volunteers, like Vinncent Nguyen, Jonathan Rauch and Michelle La Rue come in.
Now in her 20th year at Father Joe’s Villages, Gongol spearheads the Father Joe’s Villages’ Family Literacy Program and coordinates volunteer mentors. The program shows students that learning can be fun and provides them with an important role model. For each child, a literacy mentor helps with significant improvement in school grades, elevates self-esteem and builds life-long study habits.
The main reason that Jayne has stayed for so long is that she loves building relationships with kids and families.
“You are so hooked into an atmosphere of such feelings of love for the families and children. You really can’t bear to leave it,” she said.
Our volunteers are also “hooked” on mentoring children in need.
Vinncent Nguyen has been volunteering weekly with the program since 2015. His work has changed lives. Just a few months ago a child wrote him a note of gratitude:
“Dear Vinncent, I want to thank you. I like you because you were there when I needed help. You will make me a good man and when I am, I will remember you.”
Jonathan Rauch, on the other hand, is a more recent Family Literacy volunteer, beginning his service in 2017. However, Jonathan has already made a difference. One child in the program struggled to learn English and Jonathan helped him learn to read. He drives all the way from Murrieta once a week to serve as a positive influence to children in need.
Michelle La Rue is one of the program’s longer-serving volunteers. She started volunteering in 2014, signing up with her now-fiancé, Andrew. Michelle came to Father Joe’s Villages wanting to do her part by inspiring children. At this, she succeeds. Michelle is so good with the children that they often swarm her when she arrives to volunteer.
These volunteers are just three of many who are working to change the lives of children.
Our Family Literacy volunteers care deeply about the children we serve. They do their part every week to create better futures for children experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
Jennifer said, “Our mentor volunteers have love and compassion and want to see these children succeed. Where else can a child find an adult who is completely unrelated to them and is not their teacher, yet has chosen to give up their own personal time to show a child they are important to the world? The mentor/child relationship is an amazing one. It can only happen when there is a child in dire need and an adult willing to get involved.”
Learn more about how Father Joe’s Villages is giving children experiencing poverty and homelessness the opportunity for a brighter future.