The Foster Youth Alumni Co-Mentoring Project brings together foster youth ages 18 to 25, with a select group of adults in order to create a healthy support system assisting the youth in this difficult transitional time.
SCFFAA recently facilitated its second co-mentoring retreat at the Ojai Foundation. Nine adults, six transition aged youth and three facilitators attended.
The participants named their group Ohana, based on the Hawaiian culture. Ohana means family in the broadest sense of the word, including blood-related, adoptive and international members. It emphasizes that family is bound together and that family members must cooperate and remember one another.
While the adults (who arrived one day earlier than the youth) waited eagerly, the youth were anxious about leaving the urban world for the outdoors. And we, the facilitators, were excited to see that our program, extremely successful in 2009-2010, would be replicated.
The retreat began with the group sharing a meal which led into “Council”, where each person participated, listened intently and spoke honestly about themselves.
Over the weekend conversations deepened, and connections were made. By the time the adults packed up their cars and prepared to head down the hill, a sense of closeness percolated throughout the group. In the words of one of the adult mentors, “I must say, it was really a great experience-one I will cherish. Today I am feeling like I have something really special on the horizon, and I am psyched!”
Over the next three weeks the participants will connect individually, perhaps for a meal, a walk on the beach or to volunteer at a soup kitchen. The group will be meeting again in three weeks, and over the following year, will meet every six weeks to discuss their progress and the type of additional support that is needed.
SCFFAA sees this as the beginning of a new relationship building experience and trusts that a new extended family, Ohana, will be created.