What would happen if we could transform the lives of Denver’s urban at-risk youth through matching them up with mentors? That’s what a faith-based organization in Denver has been doing since 1994. Save Our Youth has been serving Denver’s at-risk youth for 20 years and their mission from the beginning was and still is, “to transform the lives of at-risk youth through mentor relationships.”
How do they do it?
Save Our Youth provides the skills to help the at-risk youth in Denver successfully navigate life. They do it through giving kids emotional, spiritual and educational skills. Many of these kids don’t have father figures around to show them what it takes to make it in life. Many are without a parent and have given up on themselves and are headed in a bad direction. SOY pairs up these kids with a mentor that will come alongside them and give them these needed skills. But more importantly, they show them that someone cares.
Kids are waiting for help
As I sat with Luis Villarreal, the Executive Director of Save Our Youth, he shared with me that there are usually 100 kids who are on a waiting list to be matched up with a mentor. The program works for the kids and then they tell their friends about it. There are kids waiting for a mentor who will help guide them at this critical age.
SOY largely works with Denver area kids who come from low income families. 409 kids, ages 10-18, were served by SOY’s mentoring program in 2013! They come from all over the Denver metro area and these kids stay in the program on average for 3 1/2. The idea is that if caring, concerned adults are available to our at-risk youth, they will be more likely to became successful adults themselves.
The need is great
Luis Villarreal said, “The youth we serve want to be attached to something bigger, to someone greater than their young lives. The wisdom of someone older and wiser is the greatest gift a young person can receive. Two parents are the best, but if kids don’t have that, then the back-up plan is an adult mentor!”
How can you get involved?
Right now, there are over 100 youth on the SOY waiting list. These kids live in the Aurora, Thornton, Denver and Arvada neighborhoods and are desperate for an adult to befriend them as mentors. It involves going through a three-hour training and then agreeing to meet with your mentee once a week for 1-2 hours for one year. You will be assigned a Mentoring Specialist who will match you with a mentee who is compatible with you. This person will advise and support you throughout the match.
Men and women are needed and you don’t need any experience working with kids. Save Our Youth says, “You are qualified because you have life experience.” Will you be the one to mentor these kids? For more information go to saveouryouth.org or call 303-455-1126