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.