Mentors needed to help fill voids in kids’ lives

Zeb Carrow, 10, needed a little guy time.

But the guy in his life is in prison.

Scott Smith, 48, had some time to spare for a kid.

Volunteers of America paired the two in a program called Mentoring Children of Promise.

It’s about tossing a ball around, sharing an ice cream cone, talking about math classes at school.

“He takes me to parks,” Zeb said. “I look forward to our visits.”

Recruiter Natasha Hundley with Volunteers of America Western Washington said the program is a lot like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We deal mostly with children of incarcerated parents,” Hundley said. “We have children in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties waiting to be matched.”

They hope mentors can give six hours a month for one year. She said that will make a positive impact on a child’s life.

“We have both boys and girls on our waiting list, but the highest need is for boys,” Hundley said. “We have boys that have been on our waiting list for more than a year wanting to be matched with a caring adult.”

Mentoring Children of Promise began in 2003 for children ages 4 to 18 with a parent in a state or federal correctional facility. They match children with mentors who can build safe and trusting relationships, show what a healthy lifestyle is, how to grow socially and join in fun activities.

“Children of incarcerated parents are seven times more likely than their peers to become involved in the criminal justice system,” Hundley said. “These children are at an increased risk for poor academic achievement, truancy, dropping out of school, gang involvement, early pregnancy, drug abuse and delinquency.”

Children need caring and dedicated adults in their lives, she said.

Scott Smith of Everett, who works in construction, has three young children. You’d think his life already is plenty busy.

“See a need, fill a need,” Smith said. “There are so many ways to give of ourselves and our time if we choose to.”

The Little League umpire said too many people live their lives with eyes half closed.

Here are some of the children who need mentors, men or women:

  • A 7-year-old fan of SpongeBob Square Pants who is curious and full of energy.

    Living in a group foster home, a 14-year-old who would love to go fishing.

    Take this 14-year-old to a science museum. He likes fantasy books, UFOs and video games.

    Getting hands dirty digging for worms amuses a 7-year-old who loves soccer.

    A little boy who lives with his grandmother, because his father is in prison, would love to play superheroes.

    Another youngster, 13, in a group foster home, would like to learn how to work on cars.

    Shoot hoops with a 15-year-old who wants to grow up and be a UPS driver.

    How about mentoring a 6-year-old boy who loves bugs?

    A sign at the VOA office aptly describes the program: “Mentorship is just a fancy word for sharing.”

    Zeb and Smith share time together, shooting hoops and the breeze.

    “He’s my favorite friend,” Zeb said.

    Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451,

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