Letter to the Editor: Youth Mentoring ‘YMCA Style’ Comes to Los Alamos


Last month Los Alamos received an incredible new opportunity to support youth in the community through The Family YMCA’s Reach & Rise™ Mentoring Program.

Los Alamos is widely touted throughout the State of New Mexico as a great place for kids because of its affluence. What gets ignored often times is that kids in Los Alamos face many of the same problems and risks as kids from anywhere else. Children live in the same fast paced world as adults but are limited by being stuck in familial situations such as foster care, shared custody and substance use in the home along with other social stressors. Kids may not have the emotional intelligence or physical development to cope with life’s problems as adults do. Many children have lots of positive adult supports, but other kids have fewer natural supports.

Reach & Rise was developed by mental health professionals to help support children who need another caring adult in their life. Kids who have a caring mentor for at least nine months are less likely to use drugs, more likely to finish school and have better relationships with others, especially family members.

Through the mentor-mentee relationship kids move from risk to resiliency by having someone to help guide them through the child’s feelings and become more confident and empowered to face life’s challenges head on. I have met and spoken with parents, community members, counselors and educators.

There is an unmet need for mentors in Los Alamos. Please join me in meeting the need for mentors by volunteering with the Reach and Rise mentor program at the Family YMCA by contacting Aaron Purtzer at apurtzer@laymca.org.