At United Way of Treasure Valley, we know the vehicle out of poverty is education. But when you live in a single-parent home, and that parent works two jobs and can barely manage to get their child, let alone themselves out of bed in the mornings, making it to school just doesn’t always happen.
This is exactly what was happening to Matt.
Matt’s attendance was poor and his behavior began to suffer. As a consequence, recesses were taken away. Fortunately for Matt, mentoring programs in the Treasure Valley exist and target kids just like him.
After just one year of mentoring, kids are:
- 46% less likely to start using drugs
- 27% less likely to start drinking
- 36% less likely to act violently
- 52% less likely to skip a day of school and earn higher grades
Things improved drastically for Matt once he was matched with a mentor. Matt and his mentor were able to spend time together during school hours so Matt could have support outside the home.
However, due to the past behavior issues, it was decided Matt would transfer schools so he could be even better supported. On the day he learned about his transfer, his mentor was scheduled to visit. When the mentor arrived, Matt met him and said, "I’m transferring to another school. Can you still come and see me?” His mentor didn’t hesitate. “Of course I can, buddy.” The mentor sent a special note to Matt’s new school and it was waiting for him on his very first day:
“I just found out you don't have school on Friday so I won't get to see you that day. But I have good news. I’ve talked to the principal at your new school and I will be able to [see you] over there. So I will get to see you very soon. I know this is a scary time in your life man. I moved a lot when I was your age and I know it is hard to go to a new school. But be brave and hang in there, buddy. You are an awesome kid and you are nice to everyone and fun to be around. I am sure you are going to make lots of new friends. I will see you soon!”
The teachers and principal of Matt’s new school say they have witnessed one of the biggest emotional impacts and academic improvements they’ve ever seen. When asked how he felt about his mentor, Matt said, “[He] makes me feel like I have a purpose on this planet."
The gift of purpose is truly remarkable. It has turned everything around for Matt. He now has a sense of significance in the world and feels valued. Every child deserves to feel this way. Because of the mentorship in Matt’s life, he is far more likely to stay out of trouble, graduate from high school, move into higher education, and be able to make a sustainable living for himself. And the good news is that you can help make that happen for thousands of other kids right here in our valley.
United Way of Treasure Valley funds a diverse range of youth-based programs. Would you consider donating to the United Way Community Fund today?