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 do...like 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
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!