During National Mentoring Month, we want to take the time to highlight the significant impact our one-to-one mentoring, Bridges for Kids, has on youth in our community. 

Several years ago, partners Mary* and George* decided to embrace mentorship for two young individuals, Ava* and Liam*, who were navigating the challenges of adolescence.

Ava*, dealing with the complexities of high school, found solace in the support provided by her mentors. In a moment of vulnerability, she verbally expressed her gratitude in a way she hadn’t before, saying, “Thank God I have you.” To Mary and George, this communication demonstrated their profound impact on this girl’s life during a very tumultuous time.

Liam*, a quiet and kind boy, vanished from their lives after turning 18. For years, his whereabouts remained unknown. However, one day, ten years later, he reappeared at the couple’s doorstep. Liam revealed to the couple that while in school, he had been silently battling abuse at home and had made the decision not to “burden” the couple with his pain. At 18, he left home, joined the military, utilized his GI bill to obtain a degree from a prestigious college, and secured a great job.

Unknowingly, Mary and George had served as a lifeline for Liam during his long and challenging journey. After all those years, he felt compelled to share his story, expressing how the couple had been his saving grace. Despite initially hesitating to let down his walls, he ultimately wanted to convey his deep gratitude for their impact on his life after coming out the other side.

Having successfully overcome adversity, Liam returned not only to express love and appreciation but also to offer his support to Mary and George as they navigated the challenges of growing old. His story serves as a testament to the transformative power of mentorship and its lasting impact on the lives of those involved. The couple’s unconditional support helped shape his life’s trajectory and created a connection that withstood the test of time.

Currently, there are 150 children on a list waiting for us to match them with a trained adult mentor in YWCA Cortland’s Bridges for Kids program.

Here are a few ways YOU can support mentoring in 2024 and ensure that our community youth can continue to benefit from this vital programming:

  1. Become a Mentor: We are always seeking mentors to pair with the children on our waiting list. Make an impact; apply to become a mentor today!
    • To mentor a child through the YWCA, you must be 18 years or older, have access to a vehicle, be willing to commit to at least one year with the child and attend training.
  2. Donate New and Unused Supplies: Supply the mentoring programming with arts and crafts supplies, books, games, and more. See the comprehensive list of accepted items on the Mentoring Wishlist.
  3. Make a Monetary Donation: Donate to the Mentoring general use fund so that we may provide enriching youth programming and supplement donated school supplies, food, and gifts to ensure every child is taken care of.  
    • Donate online
    • Donate with a check: Make a check payable to “YWCA Cortland” and mail it to 14 Clayton Ave., Cortland, NY 13045. To support this fundraising campaign, be sure to write ‘Mentoring 2024’ in the memo line.
    • Donate with a credit card: Please call the YWCA front desk at (607) 753-9651 and mention the gift is for Mentoring.
  4. Volunteer: Reach out to Mentoring Director Mindy Gardner at bridges@cortlandywca.org to volunteer throughout the year. Prepare food, distribute gifts & school supplies, assist at community events, etc.