GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - D.A. Blodgett - St. John's is looking for women to help out with one of its mentoring programs. Imagine a Big-Brothers/Big-Sisters type program, but only for mommies and their mentors. Volunteers are matched with young women with children and the relationships are rewarding for all involved.
"Yes it is. We follow the same model of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It is the same model only my clients are young moms in their teens and 20s", said Stephanie Sheler, social worker for the Sisters-In-Support program. "My volunteers are adult women from the community and those women want to invest in the lives of young women and children."
Allecia Avery, a busy mom of 2, is one of those moms. She and close to a dozen other young moms took part in a free makeover session, Amway's Artistry and Laura Mercier provided the women in the program.
Avery, who rarely has time to pamper herself, enjoyed her new look. But, her real transformation is happening on the inside thanks to her mentor. "I'm a lot more patient than I used to be because I have the help," she said.
Sheler says the program matches young moms, mostly between the ages of 14 and 30, with women who lend an eager ear, helping hand and open heart. It is role modeling, up close and personal, and at it's very best.
"They are missing some sort of support in their lives and they want someone they can talk to, someone who can encourage them, someone who can help them learn how to be a good mom and learn how to have healthy relationships with other people," she said.
Avery was matched with her mentor when her youngest child, now 16-months, was just 6 months old. With her family living out of state and friends who moved on, she says the program changed her life.
"Before it was really stressful. I didn't have anybody. If I had something I was stressed out about I couldn't really go to anybody about it," said Avery. "It helps a lot because I don't have a lot of friends," she said. "When I got pregnant they kind of went their separate ways out of high school. They want to party and do their own thing. It was kind of expected."
She says her mentor not only gives her someone to talk to about parenting but life in general.
"She helps me know what to look for in a relationship and what not to look for," said Avery. "I love it (the program). I think it is awesome. If I hadn't found it I don't know what I'd be doing right now. It has helped my life in so many different ways that I can't even image where I'd be right now without it."
"These moms come to me and say they want to make a change so they can be good mothers for their children and provide a positive future for their children," said Sheler. "When I first meet them they describe loneliness and isolation and the need for someone to talk to. But the volunteers also help with things like how to do you write a resume to get a job, how do you network, how do you look for jobs online and how do you send a well written email."
All the things they need to make a brighter future for themselves and their families.
"When you invest in the life of a mother and help her be the best mom she can be you are also investing in the lives of her children," Sheler says. "One way it helps, which is not measurable, is the young moms in this program feel as though someone cares about them. And you cant put that into a statistic or percentage."
More information on the program is available online.