Celebrating our Professional Mentors.
January is National Mentoring Month, and we would like to take this time to thank our professional mentors who have dedicated their careers to inspiring and empowering the youth in our community who need us the most. We've interviewed four of our long-tenured Friends who have a combined total of 50 years of full-time mentoring.
Mike Madden, Professional Mentor, 20 years
When Mike began as a Friend 20 years ago, founder Duncan Campbell gave him and the other mentors instructions for how to do the important work ahead, "Go and love the children." Mike did and continues to still do just that.
"Everything that we do builds on the relationship that we have with one another and the youth we serve," Mike said. During his time as a professional mentor, Mike has mentored a total of 27 youth. He currently mentors nine youth who range from first grade to a senior in high school.
"I am reminded that Friends is still just an idea, an idea that is carried forth daily by people who give their time and energy, patience and resilience. Year after year, after year, after year."
Carliss Holland, Professional Mentor, 10 years
“Having mentors in my life saved my life,” shared Carliss Holland, reflectively. Born and raised in Portland, Carliss went to the same schools some of our mentees now attend, including Boise-Eliot Elementary, Harriet Tubman Middle School and Jefferson High School. “I always knew that when I was older, I wanted to give back to my community.”
Carliss also always knew she wanted to work with kids. Starting in high school and through college, she helped at the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and volunteered in Kindergarten classrooms. Carliss has been a professional mentor at Friends of the Children for ten years.
“I’ve never really grown up. I’m a big kid at heart. I love coloring and board games. I love how lively, impressionable and loving kids are, and how they get so excited just to see you. Kids these days have to deal with a lot of situations that don’t let them be kids. So we love to just be silly. My girls and I will randomly start dancing, and we don’t even need music. We make our own kind of beats.”
In the end, Carliss wants youth to see that they aren’t alone. They have a community that loves and supports them and wants them to succeed.
“I want to be a person who makes kids feel loved and special and to let them know that they’re smart, even if they struggle. If you try hard and put your mind to it, you’ll put yourself into a position to succeed. And you know what, sometimes you need a little help, but you get through it.”
Paul Boddie, Professional Mentor, 10 Years
“I see a lot of myself in my boys. A big piece right now is feeling empathy and understanding of where they are at, especially my black and brown mentees.”
Paul Boddie has mentored the same 11 youth for the past 9 years and has seen them grow from little tykes, since kindergarten, to now 10th graders. “I’m watching them navigate society and the world around them, and they are experiencing a lot of the same struggles I had, not feeling validated culturally, especially in academia.”
For Paul, it’s important that he can be a champion for his youth and be a person who provides a space for safety and love.
“Now, two years out from graduation, I’m working to get them to see myself and Friends of a Children as a resource, not in the sense of getting things, but someone you can really trust and where you can talk about tough things. This is a no-judgment zone where we can connect on the real stuff. For a lot of my youth, they don’t have a space for that anywhere else.”