2021 marked the beginning of a relationship that helped a reserved teenager experience some remarkable changes, all thanks to an exceptional mentor.
Chase was a bit on the shy side. He tried to find his place at Ryves Youth Center with action figures and board games as his social armor. Making friends wasn’t easy – his laid-back demeanor and unique interests didn’t quite align with the Center’s vibrant activities. But when our mentor Angelo DiSalvo, a retired professor with a knack for mentorship, entered the scene, things took a positive turn.
A volunteer with TIME for Me, a program of Catholic Charities Terre Haute, Angelo worked wonders with his listening presence, helping to turn Chase from an introverted teen into a well-connected member of the group. Suddenly, Chase was not only choosing his social circle but also managing his time effectively.
Angelo remained a steadfast support, and Chase’s confidence soared. There were moments when socializing with peers took precedence over mentor sessions, but Angelo understood. There was room for exploration, and Angelo stayed present and available. Eventually, Chase circled back, marking a significant transformation.
I think just listening to these young people, I don’t have to say that much to really make a difference. All they have to do is listen, you know, and the young person will lead you to where they want to go.Angelo
Now, this once-shy teen radiates confidence and excels both academically and socially. This journey serves as a source of inspiration for everyone at Ryves Youth Center, highlighting the impactful nature of mentorship and underscoring the significance of compassion and connection.
TIME for Me, or Trauma-Informed Mentoring for Excellence, is the program responsible for these positive changes, made possible by a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through Catholic Charities USA. The program pairs girls and boys ages 9–17 with approved Catholic Charities volunteer mentors, fostering one-on-one relationships on-site for an hour a week for 12 months using evidence-based practices. For at-risk youth, having a mentor is transformative, providing guidance, a confidant and a source of advice. A mentor offers stability, academic assistance, imparts essential life skills and fosters enhanced confidence and ambition in young individuals.
The grant, received in 2015, facilitated the hiring of Juhi Beri as part-time mentoring coordinator. Juhi emphasizes, “Transforming a child’s life takes just one individual. Mentoring works! It improves communication within the home, school and with friends, increasing the likelihood of pursuing and succeeding in higher-level education. The successes for each mentee are relative, and sometimes, true success reveals itself over time.”
Story by Amber Turner, courtesy of Catholic Charities Terre Haute