Program highlight: Children's Friend and Family Services

T-minus 11 days to Mentoring Day at Fenway. We've got another Red Sox Mentoring Challenge program highlight to celebrate, Children's Friend and Family Services in Salem.

Arden Dore is the director of youth mentoring at Children's Friend and Family Services.

MMP: Tell us a little bit about your mentoring program and your role.

Arden: As the director of youth mentoring at Children’s Friend and Family Services in Salem, I see my role as the parent/guardian of 43 kids and make sure that for two hours each week they have a play date with their best friend.

Sometimes I organize fun things for them to do like a big picnic with games in the summer or a challenge course at Project Adventure. Other times they have to use their imaginations and do something fun like go to the beach and check out the sand castles, visit the Museum of Science and stare into space, or go out for an ice cream and see how many licks it takes before you bite into the cone.

I train our mentors on how to have fun with their mentees, and how to solve problems, find resources, and learn how to be responsible for their own lives.

MMP: Why do you feel mentoring is important?

Arden: I believe it is important for kids to be able to talk with someone who will listen and not judge or correct them. Kids are getting enough of that all around them. Mentoring involves empathy. Talking things out with someone who has experienced and survived adolescence should be mandatory for all kids. You can never have too many people supporting a child and making them feel good about themselves.

MMP: Your program is participating in this year’s Red Sox Mentoring Challenge, an initiative designed to recruit more caring Massachusetts adults as mentors. Which Red Sox player do you think is the best mentor on the team?

Arden: I would say Dustin Pedroia. He is not a hot-head and he works hard in the infield and at bat, and is respected by his teammates. He also severely broke his leg when he was a freshman in football and that ended his football career. He ended up trying out for the baseball team and “hobbled” around but his batting was incredible so he made the team. He is the definition of “never give up and keep trying.”

MMP: If you have personally been a mentor, tell us what that experience has been like.

Arden: Mentoring is amazing. My favorite part is seeing the look on my mentee’s face when they accomplish something that they thought would never be possible just because now they have the support that they need and someone who believes in them. Recently we had a group event at Project Adventure in Beverly. Looking up at a 35-foot climb and walking on top of a log once you made it up seemed impossible. The number of kids who could accomplish that because they had someone encouraging them was incredible.

Mentoring is all about being positive with your mentee and encouraging them to have confidence in who they are and what they can do.

MMP: How can people learn more about mentoring opportunities with your organization?

Arden: People can learn more about mentoring opportunities with Children's Friend and Family Services by contacting me at 978-219-1506 or emailing adore@childrensfriend.net.