County seeks to fill shortage of mentors

At 13, Iliana Medina felt like she had been set adrift. Kicked out of school for fighting, she was drawn to gangs and craving a role model. She missed her older sisters — one had left home after getting pregnant and another was in and out of jail.

But that was five years ago, and her former life is now barely recognizable, said Medina, now 18. The change, she said, began with mentor Jennifer Ashford.

Matched through Friends for Youth in Redwood City, their relationship turned into an enduring friendship, said Ashford, 28.

From the beginning, the pair spent at least three hours together each week, chatting, going to sporting events and just hanging out. These days, their conversations are focused on the future. Medina, who is now on the honor roll at her high school, plans to attend college to become a probation officer.

Last year, 22 nonprofit mentoring agencies served nearly 1,500 San Mateo County kids. However, young people are on waiting lists in each of the programs, said Sarah Kremer, co-chair of the Mentoring Coalition of San Mateo County.

Men and minorities willing to serve as mentors are particularly in need, she said.

San Mateo County officials began promoting mentoring to the 6,000 county and city employees last year witha fair that showcased various nonprofit organizations. The push was prompted by a 2007 report by the county’s youth commission showing young people in general felt a dearth of caring and supportive relationships with adults.

Although some county employees became mentors, a severe shortage remains and supervisors are now renewing their push. Additionally, several mentoring organizations are holding events in honor of National Mentoring Month.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, supervisors presented a National Mentoring Month proclamation to the Mentoring Coalition. A mentoring fair is planned for March 12 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the County Health Department building in San Mateo.

tbarak@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Outdoor dining, as seen here at Mama’s on Washington Square in North Beach in September, is expected to resume in San Franisco this week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to reopen outdoor dining, personal services

San Francisco will allow outdoor dining and other limited business activity to… Continue reading

Patients line up in their cars to receive a shot at The City’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination site at City College of San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Legislation would require SF to create a public COVID-19 vaccine plan — fast

San Francisco’s Department of Public Health would have to come up with… Continue reading

Ian Jameson (center) organized a group of tenant rights activists and assembled at the El Monte City Hall to demand that the City Council there pass an eviction moratorium barring all evictions during the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
California would extend eviction protections to June 30 under proposal

Legislation released Monday would also subsidize rent for low-income tenants

A statue of Florence Nightingale outside the Laguna Honda Hospital is one of only two statues of women in The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
S.F. still falling short of goal to represent women in public art

City has few streets or public facilities not named after men

Comedian and actor Bob Odenkirk is among the dozens of performers in Festpocalypse, streaming this weekend to benefit SF Sketchfest. (Courtesy photo)
Bob Odenkirk joins star-studded Festpocalypse gang

Virtual comedy benefit replaces SF Sketchfest this year

Most Read