Lori, a former corporate consultant who now runs a nonprofit organization, and Trinity, a 12-year-old sixth-grader, are unlikely friends. But through Catholic Charities mentorship program, they meet weekly, and learn from each other, laugh with each other, and experience new things together. The mentorship program pairs youth ages 9 through 12 with volunteer mentors who serve as positive role models. For almost two years, Lori and Trinity have met to go on hikes, enjoy the theater, or even just to walk Lori's dog and chat.
“There are just so many children growing up in very challenging circumstances,” said Beth Sheehan-Lucas, Program Coordinator of the Youth Mentorship Program. “This program truly provides an opportunity to make a difference.”
Beth said the most common situation they see is a single mom struggling to provide for her kids while working multiple jobs. Catholic Charities works closely with social workers at local public schools to identify youth who could benefit from the support of a volunteer mentor. Before being matched, Catholic Charities trains its mentors to understand how poverty, community violence, and trauma often impact the youth in our program
“When a mentor comes into a child’s life, the child can benefit from the friendship, support, and new experiences they share,” Beth said. “So many possibilities are there, which we hope lead to a meaningful relationship.”
Trinity, who just celebrated her 12th birthday, said she has learned so much from Lori, who often gives her advice and teaches her how to respond to situations she's never experienced before. At school, Trinity's favorite subject is math. After school, Trinity loves to play basketball, meet up with friends, and play outside. When she grows up, she hopes to join the U.S. Army or Navy to honor her grandfather, who was a U.S. Marine.
"I would like to serve my country, just like my grandpa did," Trinity said.
Lori was connected with the program when someone suggested it to her, and at first, was worried she wouldn’t have enough time to commit to Trinity.
"I've learned that we can do things that are really simple that can be really fun,” she said. “And it's easy for us to communicate and have a nice friendship. We just hang out and have a really fun time together."
Trinity and Lori have got along famously since they were first introduced, a connection Lori attributes to Catholic Charities process of matching them together.
"I remember the first time they met," Beth said. "Lori asked Trinity to take a picture with her, and Trinity was immediately showing her how she could make the picture the lock screen on her phone."
Lori laughed in recollection of the memory.
"Do you remember that Trinity?" she said. "You've taught me so many things. Trinity is a beautiful person, inside and out. Her smile just lights up the room.”