A Family For Every Child Foster children are waiting . . .
‘It’s been wonderful! I really feel I’ve made a huge difference in her life. And this child has made an even bigger difference in my life.’ •Katrina Purdy
Mentor a child for a year and make a difference for a lifetime.
Katrina Purdy and Mavis Sanchez
Connecting With A Child, Making A Difference By Colette Kimball
Imagine being a child in foster care with a large cast of adults coming in and out of your life. While each counselor, therapist, and caseworker is interested in your success, you lack a steady adult to support you throughout the transitions you experience. This is the unfortunate reality for many youth in our foster care system, and it is just one of the reasons A Family For Every Child created their mentoring program. It is also one of the reasons Katrina Purdy became a mentor. Katrina has always loved having kids in her life, from those she baby sat to nieces and nephews. She also feels strongly about being involved in her community. So when she moved to Eugene several years ago, it was natural that she would get involved in community organizations where she could develop connections with youth. While Katrina volunteered with many great non-profits — and still does — it was through A Family For Every Child where she met Dominique. With “Dom,” Katrina has created a relationship which has changed lives. Many people are familiar with
A Family For Every Child because of the “Heart Galleries” around town where professional photographs of foster children waiting for adoption are on display. Tucked in amongst these exhibits, are photos of mentors and their foster child mentee. Mavis Sanchez, the Director of the Mentoring Program, says the goal is to pair a youth in foster care with an adult who will provide encouragement and support, and be both a role model and friend. Mentors are asked to devote 10 hours a month to their mentee and to commit to a one year relationship. “I really feel I’ve made a huge difference in Dom’s life,” Katrina said the other morning, and then she began to tear up as she continued, “and Dom has made an even bigger difference in my life.” While Katrina and Dominque have a great relationship now, two and a half years ago when they first met, progress was slow. Dom was initially shy and withdrawn. She had already had one mentor and the match did not go well. Katrina said they began by taking long walks, talking, and www.OregonDigest.com
getting to know each other. Today they enjoy a very active relationship, playing disc golf and tennis, making crafts, or doing non-profit work together. Now that Dom has turned 17 and has a boyfriend, Katrina has struggled to figure out her new role in Dom’s life. However, Katrina knows one thing is for sure, there is no “end” to their relationship. According to Mavis, A Family For Every Child has about 75 mentors in Lane County and an additional 60 youth waiting for a mentor of their own. The process of becoming a mentor can take a couple months including training, an in-home interview, and a back ground check. For the right person, like Katrina, the initial approval process and awkward getting-to-know-you period is well worth the long term relationship and the knowledge that she has made a significant difference in a young person’s life. • To learn more about mentoring with A Family For Every Child visit www. AFamilyForEveryChild.org or contact Mavis at mentor@afamilyforeverychild. org or (541) 343-2856.
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