Mentors and teen moms meld and learn from one another.pdf

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					The Altamont    Enterprise - Thursday, July 15, 2004                                                                                                                                                                 21

Mentors and teen moms meld and learn from one another
        By Holly Grosch                     Febus said t h a t research shows
  NEW SCOTLAND — We all                 t h a t this type of mentor program
need a friend to call, an ear to lis-   works best w i t h kids who are
ten — someone to go get ice             "not super high need, but don't
cream with: "My m e n t o r h a s       have a lot of support."
been helpful a lot; she takes me to
things I got to doctors'        The extension did t u r n down
appointments...Or we go out to          one t e e n because she h a d too
get ice creams," 18-year-old De-        many needs for this program to
jena Johnson said.                      handle.

                  'We go out to get ice creams.'

   For a y e a r now, the Cornell                  "Giving back"
Cooperative Extension located in            Teen mothers have come into
Voorheesville has been running          the Voorheesville                program
"Mentors and Moms," a program           through: the extension's own out-
where teen mothers and adult fe-        reach, t e e n s calling in t h e m -
males arc paired up "to provide         selves, and referrals from St. Pe-
s u p p o r t and encouragement,"       t e r s Hospital and the govern-
and "give direction and advice,"        ment's WIC (Women, Infants
Angela Febus said. She is the ex-       and Children) program.
tension's community education               Johnson said she heard about
coordinator and one of the Men-         the program because Cornell Co-
tors and Moms organizers.               operative Extension made a pre-                 Shared fun: Teen mothers are paired up with volunteer mentors in a Cornell Cooperative Extension
   "A lot of the girls have very lit-   sentation at her teen-mom school                program called "Mentors and Moms." The objective is to offer guidance and support to new teen
tle contact with family or only         program.                                        mothers. The sense of group commitment and support is seen through the eyes of'Pyleia Williams as
live with one parent," she said.            Before being considered to be               she watches another teen's son, Osian, bite into a piece of watermelon.
   Currently, there are eight teen      mentors, individuals go to eight
mother-mentor               matches.    h o u r s of t r a i n i n g w h e r e they
"Geographic location is a major         learn about adolescent behavior,
factor in matching," Febus said.        program           expectations, and           of your everyday life — trouble-             where all the mentors and teen                 d a u g h t e r s herself, which John-
Other factors include the girl's        boundaries.                                   some and rewarding at the same               moms      get     together       for           son has considered helpful life
and mentor's preferences such as            T h e p r o g r a m is not about          time."                                       educational seminars, guest                    experience. "She has one that is
age, religion, or race. "So far, we     baby-sitting and assisting with                  Godlewski thinks the mentor               speakers, or making scrapbooks,                around my age and anther that's
haven't had too m a n y specific        money, Febus said. "It's impor-               training helped prepare her for              Febus said.                                    14," Johnson said.
preferences" so it makes it easier,     tant mentors know their comfort               adolescent behavior. For exam-                 Johnson says she benefits from                  S h e couldn't t h i n k of any
she said.                               level."                                       ple, in the beginning of their rela-         the group meetings because they                bumps in the road and just said,
          The Missouri seed                 "I thought it would be neat to            tionship, at first her teen mom              are all going through the same                 "It's a lot of support there and a
   The Mentors and Moms pilot           touch some y o u n g m o t h e r s '          would barely ever call her. Or, if           things. "All the other girls are the           lot of fun."
program came from the Univer-           lives,"       said        mentor       Lisa
sity of Missouri. One of the pro-       Godlewski. She is paired with a
fessors at Cornell decided to do a      girl who is a year younger t h a n
pilot in New York State. Staff at       Johnson. "I have a personal in-
the Cornell Cooperative Exten-          terest in giving back to someone,"
sion were trained by Dr. Lynn           she said.
                                                                                                                'I'm really proud of her; she just graduated from
Pike, a professor at the Univer-            Talking about her teen mom,                                          high schooI...turned 17, and got her braces off.'
sity of Missouri at the time and        Godlewski said, "Her favorite
originally a r e s i d e n t of Glens   thing is to go get pizza...We do
Falls.                                  that on special occasions, or sit on
   Voorheesville's extension aids       her front lawn or stoop and talk."
in t h e university research by             It's a huge time commitment,              they had made plans, and she                 same age as you and you get to                     Johnson said that she has high
collecting data. "The girls don't       Febus said. "Ideally, they get to-            couldn't make it, she wouldn't               talk," she said. "My mentor and I              blood pressure and, right before
have to participate; it is strictly     gether once a week in person or               call to cancel, so it was frustrat-          talk, and she's great, but she's not           her baby was born, her mentor
optional," Febus said. Entry and        by phone...but it is required every           ing for G o d l e w s k i .       Now.       around my age."                                "called to see how my pressure
exit d a t a is s e n t to Missouri.    other week," she said.                        Godlewski says she knows to just                So far t h e Voorheesville pro-             was doing every day."
They are basically finding out                   Learning together                    call ahead of time right before              gram hasn't had a teen under the                   Godlewski s a i d t h a t she
w h e t h e r or not "mentoring is          Godlewski said, "Once-a-week              she goes to pick her up.                     age of 16. Mentors have to be at               worked through her teen mom's
helping," Febus said, and in what       commitment is a lot." The teen                  Another aspect of the program              least 21 and female, Febus said,               i s s u e s w i t h h e r , s u c h as
types of situations it works best.      mother, she said, "becomes a part             is m o n t h l y group g a t h e r i n g s   but they do not have to be par-                transportation and court sessions
                                                                                                                                   ents.                                          with the father.
                                                                                                                                      "I think it's better that I'm not a             "I'm really proud of her; she
                                                                                                                                   mother myself," said Godlewski,               j u s t g r a d u a t e d from      high
                                                                                                                                   who is 36. She said that the teen              school...turned 17 and got her
                                                                                                                                   mother she is paired with "sees                braces off."
                                                                                                                                   me as someone who isn't going to                   Godlewski said her mentee still
                                                                                                                                   judge her and as a friend....I learn           enjoys things other teens her age
                                                                                                                                   as she learns."                                do, w h i l e t a k i n g on t h e
                                                                                                                                      Godlewski said t h a t current              responsibilities of motherhood.
                                                                                                                                   n a t i o n a l research shows t h a t             J o h n s o n ' s favorite activity
                                                                                                                                   m e n t o r s who a r e n ' t p a r e n t s    with her mentor was when they
                                                                                                                                   themselves have been more suc-                 went to Build a Bear at the mall.
                                                                                                                                   cessful.                                           While Johnson has been with
                                                                                                                                      Godlewski, who has j u s t re-              her mentor only since April,
                                                                                                                                   cently m a r r i e d , said her teen          Godlewski's one-year commit-
                                                                                                                                   mom asked her the other day if                ment to her teen mom is winding
                                                                                                                                   she ever planned to have kids                 down.
                                                                                                                                   h e r s e l f a n d G o d l e w s k i re-          "I see o u r          relationship
                                                                                                                                   sponded, "If I do, you better be              changing after our first year,"
                                                                                                                                   there, because I'll need all your             Godlewski said.
                                                                                                                                   help!"                                             Godlewski went on to say that
                                                                                                                                                 A lot of s u p p o r t          they may not talk as much and
                                                                                                                                      Febus said that, as is the case            t h a t she wants to see her teen
                                                                                                                                   with any relationship, it takes               mom be more self-sufficient and
                                                                                                                                   time and effort from both ends.               believes that the teen is able to
                                                                                                                                      "It's back and forth, seeing               handle situations on her own
                                                                                                                                   how each other are doing," new                now.
                                                                                                                                   teen mom Johnson said. John-                      Godlewski added, "I do w a n t
                                                                                                                                   son gave birth to her baby, Nasir,            to remain friends; she truly is a
                                                                                                                                   at the end of June and says she is            part of my life now."
                                                                                                                                   enjoying "the smiles and little
                                                                                                                                   sounds he makes and watching
                                                                                                                                   him sleep."
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Sell It
                                                                                                                                      The only difficulty she's had so
                                                                                                                                   far is his staying up at night. "I                             With An
   "Congratulations!"   the cake reads: In celebration of their peers' success, two teen moms lift up a                            w a n t to go to bed — you know,"
   cake with one hand and hold their children in their other arm. Symone Pole poses with her daughter,                             Johnson said like a pro.
   Niyana, and Tina Radley with her son, Antonio.                                                                                     J o h n s o n ' s m e n t o r h a s two                       Ad!

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