Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Volunteers Needed to Mentor Mothers and their Families

Women volunteers are needed for the Volunteer Center’s Mentoring Moms program.
Any mother can tell you that raising children is the toughest and most important job anyone can have, and it’s a struggle even when parents have access to resources and social support.  But consider a single mom.  She probably has financial worries and few nearby family members to depend on.  Maybe she, or a member of her family, is facing emotional, behavioral or physical challenges.  Odds are that she’s living paycheck to paycheck, or maybe she lost her job.  How can she afford a place to live and put food on the table for her family?  She is overwhelmed and doesn’t know how to get the help she needs—food stamps, affordable child care, tips on job searching and resume writing.  She has no one to talk with, to share her ups and downs, and relieve the stress she faces each day trying to keep it together for her family.  In situations like this, the children can be suffering, as well.
Research has shown that parents who have support from family, friends and the community are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children.  When parents lack this support or feel isolated, they may be more likely to make poor decisions that can lead to neglect or abuse.
Mentoring Moms can provide real help for mothers in these kinds of situations.  Spring volunteer training begins Monday, April 22, and runs five successive Mondays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.  Call (201) 489-9454, ext. 123 to learn how to become a Mentoring Moms volunteer.  We especially need bi-lingual Spanish speaking women to become mentors.
Volunteers are provided training and ongoing support from program staff. Training helps volunteers develop listening, communication and problem solving skills. Guest speakers such as current mentors, mothers who have participated in the program, and social services case workers share their experiences and insight, helping new mentors gain the background and knowledge they can use to support overwhelmed mothers. Through weekly contact, mentors offer emotional and practical support to the mothers. It can be a simple as meeting at a mall to shop for the kids, having lunch together to share stores of their days, or simply listening and offering support.  While each situation is different, one mother aptly described her mentor as “Someone I can talk to besides family, who understands and cares. She makes me think about my life and encourages me.”
For more information about the Mentoring Moms Program or to find out about other Volunteer Center resources, call 201-489-9454.

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