Sunday, June 12, 2016

Partner Spotlight - Acts4Youth

Acts4Youth is a comprehensive mentoring program for at-risk Baltimore City youth in grades 4-12. Single-parent households represent more than 70 percent of this population and more than 40 percent have at least one adult family member who’s been charged with a crime. To offer support, Acts4Youth runs after school and summertime mentoring programs utilizing a curriculum designed to develop character, social skills, emotional maturity and faith. Volunteer mentors serve as one on one coaches, small group leaders, or break out mentors (for 1 or 2 children weekly during school lunchtime).

NativityMissions checked in with one volunteer who is making a difference in the lives of inner-city girls. “Stumbling upon Acts4Youth through Nativity, I never realized that a single meeting would answer a single prayer,” said Joelle Conoscenti. She prayed to find that place, “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” to quote theologian Frederick Buechner.

Joelle did find that place at Walter P. Carter School where she meets with fourth and fifth-grade girls usually twice per week for break out sessions during school lunchtime. While there is a character development curriculum to implement, she and the girls also plays games, talk, and laugh.

“They face so many challenges and there is so much they cannot control in their lives,” says Joelle. “Giving them the tools to help them grow in resilience and faith, a support system, and someone who will listen, talk through struggles, and laugh with them, helps them to know they are loved, cared for, and valued as children of God.”

Two of those children must have known, at a recent benefit to raise funds for at-risk youth. There, former mayor and current president of University of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, spoke. But it was speeches by two children from Acts4Youth that stole the show. “To see their confidence, their personalities, and their spirit shine through was awesome,” said Joelle.

For Joelle, these kids quickly changed her world. And the days she mentors have become the ones she looks forward to most during the week. She says they are, “sometimes challenging, often hilarious, and always humbling.”

It’s easy to get involved! Acts4Youth has many opportunities for volunteers with compassion, humility, cultural awareness, and weekday availability. Go to our website to find out more information about becoming a break out mentor, small group leader, or one on one coach.

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