Reach and Rise Program Director Sy Vanissaveth is looking to match 30 mentors with 30 Grays Harbor Youth and is currently running short seminars about the program. You can learn more about the program at the Hoquiam YMCA.
Starting in 1992 at a YMCA in San Francisco, California, the Reach and Rise program is coming to Grays Harbor.
After its humble start the program has now grown into 38 states and continues to expand. Sy Vanissaveth, Reach and Rise Program Director, is currently building the program for Grays Harbor County and is seeking mentors to be matched with youths ranging from ages 6 -17.
"We are just starting the two year cycle and hope to have at least 30 matches in that time," informed Vanissaveth.
The Reach and Rise program is similar to a Big Brother/Big Sister Program, but the application is stricter and calls for specialized training, background checks and fingerprinting for those wanting to become a mentor.
"It is for the safety of everyone concerned," advises Vanissaveth.
A part of the program has emphasis on a therapeutic relationship between the matched mentor and youth and works off of best practices with the intake and screening process of the mentor, the mentee and the family.
"We want to make sure everyone is matched up with close interests and abilities for the pairings."
The program calls for mentors to spend at least 1-3 hours a week with their matched mentee, but that is only a minimum requirement tells Vanissaveth.
"One of the major differences between Reach and Rise and a program like the Big Brother/Big Sister is that the mentor cannot take the matched youth to their home and the progress is tracked and evaluated by at least two Directors of the program. We are very serious about who is being selected for the mentor role."
Some of the goals of the program are to help the matched youth express themselves verbally outside of their normal home situation, to improve their self-esteem, to provide problem-solving skills and help build on their family relationship. The program also prompts that they can help academic performance and behavior at school.
"We are looking to reinforce the strengths of the youth of the community, to help them see a positive outlook for the future and to even help them connect with employment opportunities and a better connection with the community."
With the benchmark of 30 matches in a two-year period, the program is looking to assist a growing problem in Grays Harbor, at risk youth.
"The commitment for the mentor is only one year, but the cycle is two-years. In that time we will hopefully make initial matches and see the program start to grow."
Mentors must be at least 23 years old, complete 15 hours of training conducted over a 4-5 week training period and participate in on-going training.
"I prefer to have group training with the mentors so that we can also build a group dynamic and the mentors can help each other as the program runs the cycle.
The one-year commitment for the mentors is only a minimum. The program monitors the progress with the matched mentor and youth with feedback logs, interviews and group gatherings."
The youth must also make commitments to the program by being available to their mentor a minimum of 1-3 hours a week for a year, and have a strong interest in the program along with their parents or guardians. When making the match for mentor and mentee, the Reach and Rise program looks at several factors like shared interests, personality types, geographic proximity, cultural considerations and family/mentee/mentor preferences.
If you have an interest in being a mentor for the Reach and Rise or have a youth that could benefit from a program such as Reach and Rise, contact Sy Vanissaveth at (360) 537-9622 x102 or visit the YMCA in Hoquiam.