The Fordham University Consortium on Social Justice is again seeking volunteers to mentor young people who are aging out of foster care.
The mentoring program was launched last September by the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham Law as part of the consortium’s efforts to link people and programs throughout the University that focus on poverty or social justice.
Participants need only dedicate 16 hours to the effort, including training, said Dora Galacatos, senior counsel at the Feerick Center.
Volunteers will attend a series of five structured events for the transitioning youths from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, 16 and 23, and March 2 and 9.
The first mentoring sessions, which were held last semester, drew a law professor and two undergraduate students. This semester, Galacatos said she hopes to recruit a graduate student, law student or professor who can bring several years of life experience to the initiative.
“If we had eight people, I would be thrilled,” she said. “Growing each semester is the most important thing.”
Working in the Bronx, Galacatos noted, brings Fordham closer to people who need the most help.
“The Bronx has long been identified as the borough of highest need,” she said. “It’s the place in the city with the greatest number of young people who want a mentor but don’t have one.”
Kathryn Newman (LAW ’09), a Feerick Center fellow, said that the adolescents really benefit from their interactions with volunteers.
“It’s been shown that this population is vulnerable to homelessness, and mentorship has been shown to help prevent that,” she said. “It’s a small population, but a very vulnerable population.”
Volunteers can expect a light and fun atmosphere that exposes mentees to positive socialization, said Shirley Salomon, mentoring coordinator for Good Shepherd Services, which helped launch the program with the Feerick Center.
“We plan activities that focus on getting to know people, how to start conversations and understanding diversity,” she said.
In addition to the mentoring program, Galacatos said the consortium will hold a luncheon on Feb. 11 to solicit ideas from faculty and staff. Too often, she said, members of the Fordham community are unaware of how many interests they have in common when it comes to service.
“Our next step is to continue to facilitate information-sharing and strengthen connections,” she said.
For more information, contact Kathryn Newman at (212) 636-7715 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.fordham.edu/cosj/.