Mentors needed for local foster youth - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mentors needed for local foster youth

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - If you've always wanted to help a foster child, but aren't in the position to adopt, being a mentor could be the perfect fit.

There's a big need for mentors to provide stability and some fun in the lives of foster youth.

Eleven-year-old Omarion tells us that his mentor is making a big impact on his life, and he considers her his best friend.

“We go to the fair. We go shopping sometimes,” said Omarion.

Omarion is grateful for the time he gets to spend with his mentor Nikki, saying:

“She's nice, and she's my mentor and she cares about me.”

Omarion lives in a group home. He sees Nikki at least once a week and really looks forward to their visits together.

“I think about it and I think what are we going to do,” added Omarion.

One of their biggest outings was to Disneyland, which Nikki paid form, but mentors don't have to spend a lot of money. They're encouraged to enjoy all of the free things San Diego has to offer and San Diego County's Foster Youth Mentor Program does provide free tickets, when available, to local amusement parks, attractions and sporting events.

“Sometimes we do special things, we've also done fun things that are for free, the park, the beach, take my dog out, just go walking around, so it's not about spending money, it's just about spending time together,” said Nikki.

The bond between a mentor and a foster youth is priceless. Mentors are sometimes the only constant in that foster child's life.

“Stability. I think it offers the kid a new person they can trust and somebody they can count on if they go to another facility, the mentor will always stay with them wherever they go. So it's something they can count on that's permanent,” Nikki explained.

When Omarion is having a bad day, he knows he always has someone he can count on. When he needs to, he can call Nikki, Omarion says it's like calling a best friend.

“I think that's awesome. He means a lot to me, I've known him for five years, so to be his mentor and be there for him and make these wonderful memories for him,” continued Nikki.

But as fortunate as Omarion is to have Nikki, he knows that's not the case for every foster youth.

“Some of my friends don't have mentors,” Omarion said.

There are dozens of local foster children, currently on a waiting list, because there's a shortage of mentors.

“I think adults should be a mentor to other kids,” added Omarion.

“I think all kids should have an adult in their life they can talk to and trust so I think it's great, and I'm just happy I can do it for him,” said Nikki.

If you're interested in becoming involved in San Diego County's Foster Youth Mentor Program, please call 619-767-5222 for more information.

There are about 80 youth on the waiting list and the majority are boys.

CBS News 8 would also like to thank Boomers San Diego for hosting a fun day at the park.

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