BYA has many programs designed to serve children and families within the Birmingham Public School District. These include but are not limited to: the Kids’ Dog Show, Youth in Service, Touch-a-Truck and Breakfast with Santa. These events all provide interaction with the children and families of the community on a broad spectrum.
On a more specific and targeted basis, BYA also sponsors the Mentor PLUS program. This service is intended to provide one on one counsel, as well as a Mentor for children who have been identified as “at risk” or even those who may already have had contact with the juvenile system.
Children are referred by teachers, parents, counselors, as well as the police and other authorities to our local office. They are interviewed and counseled by our full time Social Worker, Nikki Keller. She then makes recommendations and a referral to the Oakland County Youth Assistance Mentor PLUS program on behalf of the child for a qualified, screened and approved adult Mentor. Both parties make a commitment to the program for at least a year. In fact, the relationship often extends much longer than the minimum year commitment. Usually, by the time the Mentee is on his or her way to college, the relationship “times out” and the official relationship through Youth Assistance comes to a natural end.
Recently, one of our Mentors, who has had many Mentees, over approximately 16 years of involvement within the program, was coincidentally contacted by two of his former Mentees from a number of years ago. Both young men, now in their mid-20’s, had various; serious issues in their younger lives, with no positive male role models. Arrangements were made, independent of each other, to meet for lunch/dinner and to “catch-up”. Each young man had completed college (and in fact had done very well academically). Both were employed in good, professional careers, making better than average incomes. Each had positive and stable relationships with very impressive young women.
This is not to say that the Mentor PLUS Program was the sole factor attributable to the success of these young men. Both were very motivated and had the internal drive (intestinal fortitude a/k/a: guts) to accomplish their goals. However, it sure didn’t hurt!
Birmingham Youth Assistance and the Mentor PLUS Program really work!