Mentors needed for 100 local foster kids on waiting list - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mentors needed for 100 local foster kids on waiting list

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - If you're not in the position to adopt, but you've always wanted to make a positive impact in a child's life, consider becoming a mentor. There's a big need right now, with about 100 San Diego foster kids on the waiting list. All of these children are in need of role models and mentors to provide some stability, and some fun.

The simple joy that comes from spending time outdoors is something nine-year-old Pierre deserves to experience more often. Pierre just wants to do the types of things most kids his age take for granted.

"Go to the park, go places, like the beach or the park and play," he said.

Pierre is one of about 100 foster kids in San Diego County who are waiting to be matched with a mentor.

"Se definitely have a wait list. We have about 100 youths that are on our wait list and we have primarily boys, we have about 80 boys and 20 girls and we have a lot of teenagers that are also on the wait list," Noreen Harmelink of the Foster Youth Mentor Program said.

So the county is actively recruiting both men and women mentors, but especially men to be matched with all of the boys. The county asks that you make a one-year commitment, and that you set aside at least two hours a week together.

"A lot of our kids, they don't really have a lot of people in their life. They've been removed from their biological family, and they've had so many changes with different placements, different social workers so this can be that one consistent, positive role model. Somebody to be there for them, to have fun with, to confide in, that sort of thing," Harmelink said.

Pierre, who's living with a foster family right, would love to have a mentor who could help him with homework, take him to get ice cream, see a movie or enjoy a sporting event.

"Like go see a game, like a football, baseball or soccer game," he said.

Pierre needs someone to answer his questions.

"How do they make the webs on Spiderman? I think they use these special strings,"

Though mentors do get a monetary mileage reimbursement for their travels, they are responsible for paying for all costs associated with the tings they choose to do. So the county encourages mentors to take advantage of the free activities San Diego has to offer.

"They can go to the beach, ride bikes, we give them free tickets to different events like the Padres games, or sometimes to the zoo," Harmelink said. "And with our older kids, a lot of times it's just that hanging out, and being able to talk."

And just having someone to talk to, for many of these kids, is priceless. Mentors must be at least 18 years old, have a California driver's license and auto insurance.

The application process involves a comprehensive background check and an interview.

For more information on San Diego County's Foster Youth Mentor Program, call (619) 767-5222.

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