Family YMCA Celebrates National Mentoring Month

Kim and her Reach & Rise mentee. Courtesy/YMCA

YMCA News:

The Family YMCA is celebrating National Mentoring Month by continuing to bring awareness about the Y’s Reach & Rise™ youth mentoring program and the ongoing need for caring adults in Los Alamos.

Being a caring adult is great, but when caring adults put forth caring actions it changes the course of a child’s life. Youth mentoring, at the minimum guarantees to a young person that somebody cares about them. During the month of January, Reach & Rise is looking for five Los Alamos adults over the age of 23 to participate in the next Reach & Rise youth mentoring training.

Kim, a Reach & Rise Y mentor talks about why she chooses to mentor a Los Alamos youth:

“I have always loved the movie “The Sound of Music,” and I always especially loved the relationship between Maria (the new governess of the Von Trapp children) and the Liesle (the eldest of the seven Von Trapp children). From the outset, Liesl von Trapp claims, “I don’t need a governess,” but Liesl quickly and repeatedly learns about the great help and guidance that she can receive from governess Maria. Like Liesl and the rest of the Von Trapp children, many of us have had similar guides and “mentors” in our lives: sisters, brothers, aunties, godparents, or that awesome babysitter who also came to all of our kinder-kick games to cheer us on.

“These people in our lives taught us how to enjoy the simple things in life and taught us how to gracefully deal with our life decisions and life challenges. They gave us subtle guidance as we navigated our way through this vast and complicated world. These people didn’t teach us through lectures and lessons, but actually showed us by living the kind of life we ourselves try to emulate.

“Unfortunately, there are struggling children in this world, and in Los Alamos, without those natural mentors in their lives to guide them. Having a resource and opportunity to provide a mentor to a child in need is why I was so thankful when the Reach & Rise program came into our community. I knew we finally had an answer for this great need for mentors that has been increasing here in Los Alamos.

“Besides meeting this very real and serious need for our community’s children, I am grateful for the Reach & Rise program for another reason as well. As an adult, I have learned that adults can never have too many children in their lives. I have learned that I need children in my life to continually remind me and to “mentor” me in how to find a sense of excitement in simple silliness and how to embrace that sense of enthusiasm for exploring our curiosities and finding new possibilities. Each week that I spend time with my Reach & Rise mentee, I am thankful for this program because of the connection and relationship that it has enabled to form. Through my own involvement in this program and through witnessing others’ involvement in this program, I have learned more about how a mentor-mentee relationship helps all involved: the child, the adult, the family and the community.”

Howard and his Reach & Rise mentee. Courtesy/YMCA

Howard, another youth mentor in Los Alamos describes his motives as follows:

“I chose to be a mentor because I learned a lot of hard lessons growing up and I wanted to share them with a child that is lacking a mentor in his life. Kids today are facing the same challenges I faced decades ago, plus a lot more, especially in Los Alamos where the pressure to excel and succeed is great. I choose to mentor because I imagined the struggles a child would have growing up without a mentor, trying to survive the pressures of the world today, and I felt that I could help him reach his full potential by showing him how everyone can succeed.

“Not everyone has natural abilities to excel at everything, but I believe with the proper guidance everyone can succeed at something. This is a hard lesson to learn, because we are shown at a young age that not being the best is almost like being a failure. It took me a long time to learn this lesson of growing up; in fact it wasn’t until I actually “grew up” — well into my 40s that I learned them. With an encouraging mentor in a boy’s life, it doesn’t have to take so long.

“Few of us will ever win a marathon race, but the possibility of running more marathons than most people is real to most of us (and enjoying each one while doing it). This concept can apply to many of the things we do in life. We can gain the confidence to rise above our own unique challenges, confidence that is necessary to be happy and successful. When a child realizes this, he or she is on a more direct path to find personal success.”

The Family Y is very grateful to the mentors in our Reach & Rise program. Won’t you choose to join Kim and Howard to change the course of a young person in need? For more information about how you can make a difference in a Los Alamos youth through the Reach & Rise youth mentoring program contact program director, Aaron Purtzer through e-mail at or by calling The Family YMCA at 505.662.3100.

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