TeenWorks Receives Grant from he Sonora Area Foundation

TeenWorks Mentoring is pleased to announce the receipt of a $5,000 grant from the Sonora Area Foundation, through its supporting organization, The Irving J. Symons Foundation for Tuolumne County.

The grant was given to fund two portions of the charitable organization’s non-profit work: general operations and mentor support and training.

TeenWorks is a network of caring and responsible adults committed to helping the “at-risk” youth of Tuolumne County. Through healthy, one-on-one mentoring relationships, TeenWorks mentors seek to provide encouragement, guidance and positive role models for teens in need of compassion and understanding, according to the organization’s mission statement.

“TeenWorks Mentoring Inc. must dedicate limited existing resources to underwrite staff salaries and expenses,” Executive Director Garry Moes said in the group’s grant application.

“We sought a new infusion of financial support for our vital services provided by staff in developing mentors to serve mentees. We believed the Sonora Area Foundation was ideally suited to renew its support of this endeavor, having provided grant funds in previous years. TeenWorks is one of the few nonprofit agencies in the county dedicated to mentoring teens, as others have dissolved, are limited in scope or have reported difficulty in obtaining mentors for the large population of ‘at risk’ youth,” Moes said.

“Our overhead expenses include the typical overhead of a non-profit organization including insurance, payroll taxes, processing fees for background checks, office supplies, computers, telephone, printing, postage, fund-raising expenses, and website maintenance,” he said.

In the past, TeenWorks mentors have been expected to fully fund any activities they planned with their mentees. A $500 portion of the SAF grant will now be dedicated to at least partially subsidizing mentoring activities and training.

“We believe mentors, though volunteers, would be encouraged to take on this work if they could expect some level of reimbursement for special expenses that may arise in their efforts to form compassionate friendships with their mentees,” Moes said. “Our focus is always on kids. With additional and ongoing financial support, we will be able to support mentors to carry on valuable one-on-one relationships with needy teens and to resume periodic group events within and outside our community, offering our youth experiences that they otherwise would not be able to enjoy. This would enable us to ‘come alongside kids’ by providing an opportunity for youth and their mentors to experience such things as an overnight camp, a professional baseball game, or a day adventuring locally together.”

Moes said that all of these activities serve to strengthen the bond that is already formed and growing between mentor and mentee.

“It should be noted that many of our volunteer mentors are not in a financial position to pay their own way for these events, so we can cover those costs, thus providing another avenue for our mentors to connect with their mentees,” he said.

“To retain qualified mentors, we see a need to provide them with professional counseling services when they encounter difficult situations involving their mentees,” Moes said.

Training mentors is important, he said, noting that mentors are generally lay persons without counseling credentials.

“Providing them with professional insights and guidance in dealing with their teens’ complex issues would go a long way toward preventing discouragement and making critical mistakes. We desire also, as needs arise, to directly help mentees with expenses for things that would help them develop into productive members of the community,” he said.

TeenWorks has a separate program funded by a grant from the Sonora Sunrise Rotary Club providing short-term, interest-free microloans to youth for employment purposes, loans which can be used for needs required to obtain or advance in a job.

Youth Employment Micro-loan Partnership Announced

TeenWorks and the Sonora Sunrise Rotary Club are pleased to announce the creation of a new program designed to assist disadvantaged youth with finding, improving and retaining employment.

Thanks to a grant from the Rotary Club, TeenWorks is offering micro-loans to Tuolumne County teens age 14-19 to help them improve opportunities to obtain, advance in and retain jobs. The no-interest loans may be used to fund job-related needs, such as, but not limited to:

  • Safety equipment, small tools, and supplies needed for your job.
  • Uniforms required by your employer that are not suitable for ordinary wear.
  • Protective clothing required in your work, such as hard hats, safety shoes, and glasses.
  • Physical examinations required by your employer.
  • Fees to employment agencies and other costs to look for a new job in your present occupation
  • Certain educational expenses.

The payback provisions will be flexible, as stated in a loan agreement on a case-by-case basis.

TeenWorks and the Rotary Club believe this program will encourage employment skills and responsibility as well as financial accountability.

Youth may apply for a loan here.

Contact TeenWorks at info@twmentoring.com for more information.

A New Venture: Opening Prison Doors

"I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you ... in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" — Matthew 24:36-37; 39-40

TeenWorks Mentoring is embarking on an exciting new venture in fulfillment of this commendation by Jesus concerning the blessings of serving Him vicariously by serving "the least of these" His brothers. 

Our organization was recently contacted by the Tuolumne County Probation Department in response of a judge's order that a young man he was sentencing to the county's juvenile justice detention center in Sonora be matched with an adult mentor. His legal guardian, the Probation Department, turned to TeenWorks seeking to fulfill the judge's mandate.

Although TeenWorks has not worked inside an incarceration facility before, we felt this was a unique opportunity to further our mission of "bringing hope to youth through Christian-based mentoring." Providentially, a new mentor had recently volunteered to begin working with us, and he has a background in working in detention facilities. The Probation Department and leadership at the juvenile detention center quickly facilitated granting access to our mentor, who expressed eagerness to come alongside this young man with love, friendship, guidance and concern. Our mentor responded, "[It] seems like all the doors are opening for us to do this."

Please pray that this new venture would be fruitful in the life of our new imprisoned mentee. It is our hope that sharing the love of Christ with him and providing a suitable role model will have long-term positive effects in this mentee's life.

TeenWorks Team Expands

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Garry Moes as Executive Director and Renée Kelsey as Program Coordinator. Mario DeLise and Jon Mahanna were recently appointed to the Board.

Mr. Moes joined our team in September 2017. He has had a long, multifaceted career, most recently in non-profit development, recruitment, management and communications work. He holds a degree in journalism from Michigan State University and worked as a political reporter for The Associated Press for 21 years.. He lived in the Mother Lode area for more than 23 years and spent seven years in South Carolina before returning to California in June 2017. He and his wife Karlinda have five children and 26 grandchildren. Garry, Karlinda and three of their children are members of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church, a TeenWorks ministry partner.

Mrs. Kelsey joined the TeenWorks team in March 2018. She is a first-grade teacher at the Christian Family Learning Center in Angels Camp, Calif. For two years, she worked at the Bret Harte High School Special Education Department as a classroom resource. She trained for work with pregnant teens at the Modesto Resource Center and as a teen herself worked as a volunteer at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Tracy. She has served at her church as a youth and vacation Bible school leader. She and her husband Bill live in Copperopolis, Calif. and have four children.

Mr. DeLise has served as a chaplain at the Sonora Regional Medical Center (Adventist Health) since 2016. He has a Master of Divinity degree and board certification with the Association of Professional Chaplains. While in seminary, he was an assistant youth pastor. Mario has worked as a chaplain to youth in a psychiatric facility. He has served on boards for the Interfaith Coalition on Poverty and Neutral Ground, a mediation organization. He and his wife Melissa have two young children. 

Mr. Mahanna is a long-time professional ski instructor and has worked for many years at Dodge Ridge Ski Resort in Tuolumne County. He has more than 50 years experience in the ski and golf industries, including years in leadership and management of resorts. He has worked with children in this capacity and other endeavors. He came to Christ at a Promise Keepers event some years ago. He has been instrumental in organizing TeenWorks's annual fund-raising golf tournament and currently serves on the tournament organizing committee. He and his wife Suzanne live in Columbia, Calif.

So Different Than MY High School Experience

So Different Than MY High School Experience

This weekend I was at Hume Lake Christian Camps.  It was only natural that the weekend would show up waaayyy toooo fast. Especially in this season of life as I am trying to get going at a new  real estate brokerage, marriage is busy, and school is starting again for this old professor. Life is hectic, but after the weekends events, my perspective is that my life, and my high school experience, is nothing like most of these kids. 

2016 Here we Come

2016 Here we Come

What a wonderful year it has been for mentoring. We are happy to announce that we will finish 2015 strong! It has been a challenging year due to changes in administration, but we feel that we are in such a strong position for 2016. We wanted to take this time at the end of the year to share a mentor story with you, because as we look forward to 2016 we hope that you will be encouraged by what we have accomplished- Thanks to YOU (our supporters). Here is a story that will allow you to see mentoring through our mentors eyes: