Girls/Boyz First Mentoring Meets with Leahy and Sanders Staff for 2022 Capitol Hill Day

Vermont mentoring programs joined forces during the 2022 Capitol Hill Day today to speak to Vermont legislators about the critical role mentoring programs play in wrap-around services that help youth survive and thrive.

With support from MENTOR National and Mentor Vermont, Girls/Boyz First Mentoring joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont, the DREAM Program and other mentoring programs from around the state for a day of virtual meetings with staffers from the offices of Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Essential federal funding for mentoring in Vermont comes through a single line item in the federal budget through an OJJDP grant (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention). This year and next, we hope to see an expansion over previous funding levels to help mentoring programs better serve children and communities in need during and after the Covid19 pandemic.

Vermont Mentoring Programs met with Sander’s Senior Policy Advisor on Education and Children and Outreach Representatives

Recent surveys show:

*1 in 3 children grow up without a mentor in their lives

*Only 39% of youth report that they have an adult they can turn to when feeling stressed

*Mentoring is one of few prevention and intervention strategies that address multiple risk and protective factors simultaneously

* There is strong bipartisan public support for mentoring: 83% of Americans support mentoring

We are so grateful to have legislators who are so supportive of mentoring, children and all the communities in our big little state!


Into the Future

Ezme and Garet pause for a selfie while working on college applications.

Springboarding from a foundation of friendship and trust, mentees and mentors spend time thinking about, planning and working towards goals for the post-high school years.

This mentor pair has been together for seven years!


Through Thick and Thin!

I’m so impressed by the dedication of our mentor pairs, connecting through thick and thin.

These two started mentoring together in the Everybody Wins! Vermont reading mentor program, then came to Girls/Boyz First Mentoring to continue their friendship beyond elementary school.

Despite the mentor moving out of town and having a baby, and then the onset of the pandemic, they continued to connect whenever and however they could.


Burgers, Fries and Uno

This mentor and mentee dealed me in on an intense game of Uno! There’s an endless number of ways to have fun when mentoring, but the simplest, just being together, is the most powerful.


Support Central Vermont Children on Giving Tuesday

Changing lives with the gift of friendship.

Whether spending time baking together, hiking or just hanging out, mentoring gives children caring friendships and new opportunities to expand their world.

Over the summer, Girl/Boyz First mentor pairs were able to meet in person cautiously, and this fall we started hosting monthly group gatherings again, offering outdoor activities to keep our mentoring community safe. In the months ahead, we’ll focus our efforts on recruiting new mentors to reach more children in central Vermont.

 

Helping kids navigate our changing world.

As we move through this second year of the pandemic, our mentors have been a point of stability and positivity for our youth. The bonds formed between mentor and mentee bring joy, engagement and a positive outlook.

Mentoring makes a difference in the lives of our children and in our community.

We need you!

Please consider becoming a mentor or donating to Girls/Boyz First Mentoring to support youth during a time when they need it most.

For information about mentoring, click here.

Donate online here.

Or mail a check to us at:

Girls/Boyz First Mentoring
73 Main St #29
Montpelier, VT 05602

Making a difference, one friendship at a time.




Introducing Kim Smith, Program Director

Girls/Boyz First begins its next chapter and welcomes new Program Director, Kim Smith, as former Director, Wendy Freundlich, retires after 22 years of dedication and service. Kim comes to us having served youth for over 20 years, most recently as Program Manager for Everybody Wins! Vermont, a statewide reading mentor program.

Having moved to central Vermont from Boston in 1997, Kim brings a diverse array of skills and interests. She discovered a passion for making the world a better place during her undergraduate years, majoring in English and Women’s Studies at Wesleyan University. Since then, she has worked with many nonprofits including Bikes Not Bombs, Goddard College and Food Works at Two Rivers Center. She’s been part of missions that range from substance abuse prevention, bioregional food security, bicycle repair and skill building for inner city youth to dance, education, afterschool enrichment and mentoring. As a community member and volunteer, she has coached student teams in Destination Imagination and First Lego League Robotics, served as Treasurer for the Main Street Middle School Parents Group, helped promote Montpelier’s Ice on Fire winter festival and served as Co-Coordinator at the North Branch Community Garden.

Mentoring helps kids feel more connected
and cared for…
Having a mentor to serve
as a role model and help them pursue their
interests is a big deal.

Kim explains, “Community has always been important to me. Knowing I have friends and others there to support me — to share knowledge and resources or to just have fun — helps me so much. I feel like people know me and I belong. Mentoring helps kids feel more connected and cared for, too. Having a mentor to serve as a role model and help them pursue their interests is a big deal.”

As both a former mentor and mentor program coordinator in Barre City, she knows the special bond that develops between mentors and mentees. “It’s so rewarding to see children thrive with individualized attention and watch their confidence grow. It’s exciting and reassuring for them to know this person is there, just for them, wanting to get to know them and have fun. They get to try new things and their outlook improves. They take pride in being part of something special.”

Though the need for mentoring has grown, programs have struggled, she explains. “The pandemic has been hard on all of us. More than ever, with parents and teachers so maxed out, kids can really use the stability and extra care that a mentor provides.” Despite mentor recruitment challenges and group activity limitations due to Covid, Kim hopes to experiment with an online mentoring component, implement skills-based outdoor workshops and diversify the volunteer base by inviting more BIPOC and queer community members to get involved. “As we come up with new approaches to pivot with the times, the promise of vaccines coming for elementary aged children will help a lot. We’re lucky to have a high vaccination rate in Vermont, but continuing to be thoughtful and cautious protects our vulnerable community members.”

Kim loves spending time with children and working with volunteers and is looking forward to making a difference in children’s lives through the Girls/Boyz First Mentoring program. “As much as we may want it to, the world doesn’t always offer awesome opportunities and promote healthy development for every child. Even the most excellent schools aren’t always a great fit for certain kids. That’s where mentoring can really help. But honestly, having a mentor is great for any child who wants one. Plus it’s rewarding, sometimes life-changing, for the mentors, too.”

Even the most excellent schools aren’t
always a great fit for all kids. That’s
where mentoring can really help.
But having a mentor is great for
any child who wants one. Plus it’s
rewarding, sometimes life-changing,
for the mentors, too.

Kim lives in Montpelier with her 16-year-old son and two cats. She loves to do crafts, paint with watercolors, ride bicycles, swim, cook, garden, play music, make soap, ice skate, hike, camp, and more. And she says, “If you like being with kids and doing fun stuff, you’d probably make a great mentor!”

Girls/Boyz First Mentoring is a program of Washington Central Friends of Education. If you or someone you know would like more information about becoming a mentor, please contact Kim at (802) 552-0249 or kim@girlsboyzfirst.org. You can also support Central Vermont children by making a tax-deductible donation online at https://girlsboyzfirst.org/donate-today/ or by mailing a check to Girls/Boyz First Mentoring, c/o Washington Central Friends of Education, PO Box 324, Montpelier, VT 05601-0324.

Photo credit: Rowan Harple