This week a group of Friends for Youth mentors and mentees attended an exciting sports game, cheering the Golden State Warriors to victory over the Houston Rockets in a close 102-99 game. After gathering tickets and snacks, everyone met at our seats just in time for tip-off. Even though we were up high in the crowd, we experienced just as much excitement as if we sat in the front row. Friendships screamed and cheered while the basketball stars scored each impacting shot. For those mentees who were not familiar with every aspect of the game, mentors were able to share some basketball knowledge and teach them about rules, plays, or players. Most importantly, Friendships were able to positively interact and learn new things while having some fun. Friends for Youth can’t wait for the next game to show our spirit and have fun. Special thanks to the Warriors for the donated tickets!
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Nutrition is very important, but it is sometimes hard to know what is good for you and what is not. Recently Friends for Youth held a Nutrition Life Skills Workshop, which was expertly presented by Elaine Silver, a nutritionist from the UC Davis Nutrition Program. Elaine did a fantastic job at capturing everyone’s attention as she educated us about some of the “not so healthy foods” we should limit and explained what is "healthy" when it comes to eating things with sugar, salt, and fat. In addition, all the mentors and mentees who attended this Life Skills Workshop went home with a cookbook full of fun, easy, and healthy recipes they can later cook with their families. The night ended with everyone playing with their food by getting creative and making yummy banana caterpillars!
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Friends for Youth recently made a trip to visit the senior citizens at Lytton Gardens. Our group of mentors and mentees had a great time interacting with the wonderful Lytton Gardens’ residents, and everyone got busy on a basket making project. Even though only one basket was totally finished, everyone had a great time learning, teaching, and sharing basket-making skills. Most importantly, it was clear that the residents enjoyed sharing their stories with our Friendships. Some Friendships plan to continue to work on their baskets at home and once done return to Lytton Gardens to share the end products. The Lytton Gardens residents, Friendships, and staff all agreed it was a fun and rewarding community service activity.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Prachi and Michelle reached their year together as friends this past December! These two have been an unstoppable force, attending many FFY group activities, such as our GAP Studio portrait taking and our Annual Summer BBQ. They also attended an Alcohol and Drug Prevention Life Skills Workshop, and they volunteered at our Fashion Show Event last March. When they weren’t with the Friends for Youth bunch, they took advantage of many free ticket opportunities like Alcatraz, San Mateo County Fair, and the De Cantor Museum. They plan to continue their adventures together into the new year and beyond!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
This past Sunday Friends for Youth celebrated the holiday season with a bang! Thanks to the donations collected by Emeritus Friendships network this summer, this year’s holiday celebration was special and one of the best yet. The donations paid for the venue, food, and gifts for every Friendship.
This year’s celebration took place at The Winter Lodge in Palo Alto, and it's hard not to get into the holiday spirit once you are there. About 30 Friendships attended and got into the holiday spirit and enjoyed a fun afternoon full of ice skating, lunch, board games, and making new friends. The Friendships were joined by their guests, staff, and a few Board members. As part of the celebration, we collected canned foods to donate to our local food bank. Thank you everyone for your generosity. The delicious lunch was provided by Arguello Catering and was super yummy!
It was great to see to everyone having such a fantastic time on Sunday, and we can only hope this special event sponsored by the Emeritus Friendships network becomes an annual holiday tradition!
My journey with Friends for Youth began in December of 1989 when I was matched with a fantastic 13-year-old named Marvin. Our first outing together was a visit to Alcatraz, and we participated in many memorable group events including a trip to Disneyland, water skiing at Lake Shasta, and multiple holiday parties. We spent many visits together making dinner and just hanging out and talking, and thanks to the amazing job the staff did in matching the two of us, we were both incorporated into each other's families. We have been in and out of contact over the years, including many years where I did not hear from him, and he was finding his own path. Most recently and unexpectedly he found me and called me on my birthday of all days, and we were able to catch up. Who knew 20 years later the lasting connection we built as friends would still link us together? Marvin is now all grown up. He is married and has a one-year-old daughter. I feel fortunate to know him.
In 2005 I had the amazing opportunity to be matched with a second young man I met at a waitlist event at a San Francisco Giants baseball game. The activity was the result of a collaborative partnership between my employer, Oracle, and Friends for Youth. Thankfully Friends for Youth staff member Sarah Kremer saw how well RJ and I got along sitting in the bleachers watching the game, and soon after we were matched up. RJ and I spent many evenings together talking about life and trying to make our way through the entire California Pizza Kitchen menu at the Hillsdale Mall, but the crowning moment in our Friendship was when he asked me to come to his Back to School Night at Hillsdale High School. I was able to meet all of his teachers and get their contact information so we were able to bring schoolwork into our conversation in addition to what was happening in his life. RJ’s family has since moved around a lot, and we’ve lost touch, but I hope one day RJ and I can reconnect as well.
Thanks to this second match I was able to re-engage with Friends for Youth, and I joined their Board of Directors in 2006. Having been a Senior Friend and also having assisted the staff as a volunteer counselor in the 1990s made me very comfortable with the Mentoring Services, but being a Board Member made me appreciate in a broader sense how important the organization is on the Peninsula to both the community and the kids we serve. My time as Board Chair helped me sharpen my skills as an advocate for such a worthwhile organization. The services we provide to the community are priceless as are all the memories I have of both my Junior Friends, Board members, and staff members who have come into my life.
Thanks for everything you do Friends for Youth!
First published in the November 2013 Emeritus Friendships Bulletin
My involvement with Friends for Youth began in 1997 when I was matched with Jackie, a fun-loving, capable, and considerate eighth grader. My Friendship with Jackie continues to this day, as does my support of Friends for Youth. I’ve been a Senior Friend, volunteer, ambassador, recruiter, and donor.
I was an enthusiastic Senior Friend, committed to supporting Jackie in achieving her goal: high school graduation in 2001. For me, being a Senior Friend has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was easy to give my time to mentoring because I saw results of the investment, both in Jackie and myself. I loved that Jackie was “up” for anything and that often she suggested activities and outings that we could share. I gladly accepted the challenge of keeping her interested in school.
One of my favorite memories is of a Saturday afternoon selecting produce that could be used in a photo essay about geometry in nature—laughing as we considered the shapes of peppers, tomatillos, lemons, squash, and melons. The effort paid off: In her junior year Jackie achieved a personal-best GPA, was elected class vice president, and was selected for her school’s leadership program. I was thrilled that Jackie expanded her ideas about what was possible for her!
After Jackie’s graduation from high school, I moved to the East Bay. Despite this, Jackie and I have still kept in contact and see each other regularly. And even though I live and work on the other side of the Bay, I discovered another way to support the work of Friends for Youth. I was surprised to learn that much of the planning for fundraising events (such as the Fashion Show and Golf Tournament) is done by conference call! I found that I could help on a committee from the relative comfort of my office.
Over the years Jackie and I have told our story at Friends for Youth celebrations, fundraisers, and recruiting events. Ambassadorship is important to the organization—it can bring new mentors, donors, and supporters. Jackie and I continue to tell our story in the hope that it motivates others to get involved.
I believe that Friends for Youth is doing vital work for our community. Individuals and communities benefit. I’ve benefited. I’ll continue to give money and time because I believe that involvement in Friends for Youth for both Junior and Senior Friends is transformative.
First published in the July 2013 Emeritus Friendships Bulletin