To the editor:
Children & Families of Iowa is currently seeking volunteer mentors for the HALO mentoring program. The HALO Mentoring Program was created in 2010 as a collaboration of Children & Families of Iowa, a group of youths in Iowa's foster care system, and a group of adults attending two large churches in the Des Moines area. CFI staff facilitated the creation of the mentoring model used, based on best practices in the literature, and youths developed the name. HALO stands for Helping And Loving Others. HALO has since expanded to Children & Families of Iowa in Fort Dodge and in addition to mentoring youth in foster care, it now includes other at-risk youths, ages 14-21 years old who are participants in CFI's Youth Employment Program.
Mentors are needed primarily in Webster County; however the program also serves the counties of Hamilton, Humboldt, Calhoun, Wright and Pocahontas. Mentors can choose to mentor individually or a couple can mentor a youth together. HALO mentors receive 10 hours of pre-service training, and must pass all criminal and related background checks. All mentors and mentees voluntarily commit to HALO, but once matched all parties must agree to meet face to face at least twice per month for a year. In addition, mentors receive ongoing quarterly support and training, and the larger group of mentors and mentees get together for quarterly fun and training sessions. Mentor pairs are matched on the basis of interests, personality, and in some cases on education and career goals. Mentors help mentees learn important communication and independent living skills, and may develop mutual hobbies. The mentoring relationship is reciprocal - mentees often teach the mentors new skills and give them exposure to a new way of thinking about issues and beliefs. HALO mentors and mentees have consistently reported that they've each learned important lessons about themselves through the mentoring process.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact Teresa Larson-White at 573-2193 ext. 204 for more information. This is a great opportunity for you to share what you know with the youth of our area who need it.