Being a teenager is hard enough, but one non-profit is making things a little easier by connecting youths in the community with a positive mentor.
Spending an afternoon with Jennifer Lezan and Jenna Newberry you would think they’ve have been friends forever.
“We will go out to lunch, we hang out at Starbucks. We talk a lot on the phone and she lets me know how life is going,” said Lezan.
The two have been placed together by 360 Youth Services Mentor Program, started two years ago in an effort to match struggling teens with someone they could connect to.
“I might be an ear to listen to things she’s going through that she might not feel comfortable talking about at home,” said Lezan.
Originally it was only open to girls, however once 360 Youth Services noticed the interest they expanded it to everyone.
“Our hope with this program is to have the youth be matched with positive people in the community because they suffer from trauma and abuse in a lot of cases at home,” said Director of Programming at 360 Youth Services, Debbie Carr.
Jennifer, knows first hand what 360 Youth Services can do, before she started her own business she was a client of the non profit.
“I see the benefits of all the great things 360 does in the community and I thought that if there was a month where we were slow and I couldn’t monetarily support, maybe I could give my time,” said Lezan.
“I was in a really dark place not too long ago,” said Newberry. “Having Jennie, and knowing I am able to call her whenever, text her, or hang out with her and get out of the house, you know we all need that, I couldn’t ask for anything else”.
Newberry had been in therapy previously and while she saw the benefits, she wanted someone she could relate to on a personal level.
“Therapists don’t quite understand because they haven’t been through the same thing so it’s hard to connect with them. But with a mentor, especially with Jennie, we just connect and understand each other,” said Newberry.
“Being able to be there for someone, who’s had a similar life experience to me – it makes me feel like I am doing something good in the world,” said Lezan.
The program is still looking for mentors, if you’re interested check out www.360youthservices.org.
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