By Jake Rogers
Although JJM is starting out smaller, we have a big vision that will allow us to meet a very big need within our community.
JJM has secured a mentoring site (Temple Baptist Church) where youth can build relationships with healthy positive adults. The long-term vision for JJM includes a Mentoring Site that would be open 3-8pm Monday through Friday and 12-6 on Saturdays.
The mentoring site is more than just a safe place for mentors and youth to meet with one another. It will be structured to meet the needs of JJM youth and their families. There will be an application process that will begin, ideally, while the youth is lodged inside the Detention Center or prior to returning home from IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections). Individual Case Management will be provided to work collaboratively alongside existing services and to connect youth with any other services necessary, such as substance abuse treatment, mental health, DCFS, probation, parole, employment, GED, etc. Since every person and situation is different, individual Service Plans will be created with goals targeted to help youth overcome their unique barriers. Youth may be accepted into JJM programming anywhere from one day a week to all six days. This may change as they progress within the program, individual goals, or develop mentor relationships.
Doors will be open immediately after schools lets out. The JJM Mentoring Site is conveniently located on the State St. bus route. After school, participants will go directly to the Mentoring Site, and JJM Leaders will bus youth home at the end of the day.
Each day of the week will have its own schedule of activities. For example, there may be a small group on prayer Tuesday evenings. Wednesdays may include a life skills activity (This could range from construction projects and repairs to changing the oil and routine auto maintenance). One student may elect to participate in both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while another may only be interested in the projects and only participate on Wednesdays. This will be identified during the application and admission process, included as part of the youth’s Individual Service Plan, and reviewed and assessed as needed.
Activities will vary each day of the week. Mentees can schedule individual 1 – on – 1 sessions with their mentor for any time throughout programming, allowing for greater flexibility to accommodate volunteer mentors who have a limited availability.
The structure of each evening will begin with an open format, providing an opportunity for youth to meet 1on1 with a mentor, work on homework with assistance as needed, or work on other activities related to their Individual Service Plan with support from volunteer leaders. A meal will be enjoyed together. This not only facilitates an opportunity to build relationships, etiquette, and social skills, but it is another area of focus for volunteers and interested participants. Those interested could work alongside volunteer mentors to prepare, cook, and clean up after the meal, building life skills, learning to work with others, while at the same time instilling self-confidence.
Activities Could Include:
Individual 1 – on – 1 mentor sessions
- Naturally occurring relationships
- Official – long-term 1-year commitment between mentor and mentee
- Unofficial – spontaneous or planned meetings
Hands-On Life Skills
- Auto mechanics
- What is Prayer
- Understanding the Bible as the Word of God
- How People Change (developed from CCEF Dynamics of Biblical Change)
- Individual lessons
Community Guest Speakers
- Pregnancy Care Center
- Addicts in recovery sharing their story
- Workforce Connection
- Community partners
- GED planning/preparation
- Employment Readiness / Job Searching
- Personal Safety
Mentoring is not the same as teaching, lecturing, or instructing. It does include these components, however, what makes mentoring so uniquely valuable is the relationship that is built between mentor and mentee. All volunteer leaders are mentors. Leaders will serve in a variety of positions, and commitment levels may range from a few hours every other week to 5 days a week.
INDIVIDUAL 1 – ON – 1 SPECIALIST: Mentoring can look very different. It takes on many different shapes and forms; it happens in many different settings, places, and times. Part of mentoring includes the deep 1on1 conversations of life’s difficulties, hurts, and pains, as well as joy’s and celebrations. There is a season and time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). and whatever the season someone may be going through, 1on1 mentoring is always a time to discuss and process it.
PROJECT SPECIALIST: Mentoring relationships may include working on a project together. This may be cooking a meal, or repairing or building something. These are opportunities for a mentee to work alongside a mentor, getting to know one another better, building trust and confidence, learning and developing new skills, developing a work ethic, building self-confidence, and more.
SMALL GROUP/TEACHING SPECIALIST: Mentoring can take place through facilitating or leading groups. Small groups may range from topical, such as anger or substance abuse, Biblical studies (prayer, understanding the Bible, individual books of the Bible, etc.), workforce preparation, etc. Other group activities may include team building exercises, social skills and etiquette, and team interview dramatization, etc.
MUSIC SPECIALIST: Mentoring through the love for music. This could involve musical instruments, writing rap lyrics, presenting on stage, even forming an entire band. The possibilities are as vast as the imagination and creativity of these specially gifted mentors.
TRANSPORTATION SPECIALIST: Mentoring conversations can often take place while riding in a van on the way home. Both drivers and additional adult riders will be needed. They are responsible for making sure each participant is dropped at the approved and identified place or home.
Is this a big vision? Yes, it is. Some say too big, but we serve a God who “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
The need in our community is enormous, and it will take a big vision to meet these needs. As you think of those who made a difference in your life, think of how many small actions and simple words had a huge payoff in your life. Do you recognize the problems and needs of these high-risk youth? Do you see how they contribute to our community’s: economy, public safety, employment, housing, violent crime, drug use, taxes, and overall wellbeing? If so, this is your opportunity to do something.
If you have a passion for working with high-risk youth, there may be a place for you as a mentor! Very few are called to work directly with high-risk youth. Fortunately, there are numerous behind the scenes opportunities where you can give back to these kids, to your community. Contact us for information on the different opportunities to volunteer with JJM. jrogers@StatelineYFC.org
Not every position can be volunteer-led and there will be expenses. Would you consider investing in a JJM Mentoring Site for Rockford? Remember, small actions can have a huge payoff. If 100 people will invest, a tax-deductible donation, of $5 or $10 a month that becomes $6,000 – $12,000 a year! Give online here or at www.statelineyfc.org/give
Our greatest need will always be prayer. Signup here to receive the JJM Newsletter or to be a prayer warrior and join one of our Email Prayer Teams:
- Monthly – JJM ministry overall
- Weekly – for the individual students we work with each week
- On-Call – for those unexpected and in-the-moment needs.
Don’t wait, join us in accomplishing this vision for Rockford’s JJM Mentoring Site. Give life to your story today! For more information email: jrogers@StatelineYFC.org
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