Mentoring program offers help to young parents

The following blog post was submitted by Training Resources of America about their Holyoke site:

Meet mentor Elizabeth (Libby) Walton-Stanforth and mentee Esther Sanchez who met in May 2013 through a young parents mentoring program at Training Resources of America (TRA).

Esther Sanchez, a single mom with a young son, is enrolled in the Young
Parents Program (YPP) at TRA’s Holyoke Office where she is studying for the GED and learning parenting, life and work skills.

When TRA received a Young Parents Demonstration Grant from the U.S.
Department of Labor in July 2011, TRA was able to add a mentoring component to its statewide YPP. And that’s when Elizabeth and Esther were matched up.

TRA-Holyoke YPD Mentoring Success StoryWithin a few months they have built a genuine rapport with one another. “We are developing a special connection that is important to me. It’s interesting to me to see the world through Esther’s eyes and to learn about her life and experiences. I realize that while we are very different in many ways, we’re the same in many ways too. We’re both moms, and the health and well-being of our children is of utmost importance to both of us,” says Elizabeth.

The match is successful because they are both actively engaged in the relationship. They communicate regularly and ensure that they understand what is important to each other. They enthusiastically include one another in their lives. Elizabeth incorporates each of their families into their activities, knowing that Esther finds this highly important.

Over the summer, when Elizabeth went on an extended vacation out of the country she kept in contact with Esther via email and postcards. She included pictures of the places she was visiting and updates on her family. Esther would reciprocate, updating Elizabeth on her daily activities, while including pictures of her and her son. “Elizabeth’s a good mom. She gave my son books. She’s just so nice. I’ve met her family. Her husband speaks Spanish and she and her girls are learning too,” says Esther.

Through the progression and strengthening of their mentoring relationship, Esther’s attitude and ambition toward succeeding in the Young Parents Program has vastly improved. “Not for nothing. Elizabeth is a wonderful person, she has a good heart. I needed someone like her in my life. She keeps me positive. She helps me,” says Esther about her mentoring relationship.

But it isn’t a one way street. Elizabeth states that “Being Esther’s mentor has enriched my life. She is a warm, sweet, and caring person, and I feel privileged to have been invited into her life. I think that we are both growing as people because of the relationship, and I appreciate her ability to communicate to me that the relationship is important to her. I enjoy spending time with Esther, and we have fun together. I look forward to our time together.”

They are very excited about the future of their match. Currently, Elizabeth is teaching Esther to knit; Esther plans to make a pair of socks. Esther is working hard in YPP and expects to obtain her GED soon. In the meantime, Elizabeth continues to be a wonderful source of support and guidance for Esther.

About Training Resources of America, Inc.
Training Resources of America Incorporated (TRA) is a private, non-profit organization that provides education, employment, training and workforce development services for educationally and economically disadvantaged youth
and adults. Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts, TRA has eight training sites throughout Massachusetts including two (2) in Western MA. The Holyoke office is located at 225 High Street, 2nd Floor, Holyoke. The Springfield office is located at 32-34 Hampden Street, Springfield. TRA’s website is www.trainc.org.

TRA operates a variety of programs including the Young Parents Program, funded by the MA Department of Transitional Assistance and the Young Parents Demonstration Program funded by the U. S. Department of Labor. YPP provides pregnant and parenting out-of-school youth, aged 14-21, who have not achieved a high school diploma with a variety of services including: Adult Basic Education/ GED Prep, English as a Second Language and training in
parenting, life, and work skills. The program directs young parents toward long term economic self-sufficiency.

TRA is one of four awardees nationwide to receive a U.S. Department of Labor grant to operate a statewide Young Parents Demonstration Program (YPD) as part of a national project. Mentoring services focus on education, career advancement and personal development. Volunteer mentors are recruited from local communities. The overall goal of the program is to evaluate the impact of intensive one-on-one mentoring services with regard to Young Parents Program outcomes and success rates.