faith-based mentoring initiative launches

( [email protected] ) May 19, 2004 02:13 PM EDT, a faith-based initiative to recruit and refer Christian adults to mentoring programs in their church and community, was officially launched by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention , in cooperative agreement with the National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM), on May 5 at the Department of Justice in Washington DC.

"Adult mentors are a valuable asset in a child's life. A caring mentor can change children's lives by giving them refuge, hope and a solid path to follow," said Assistant Attorney General Deborah Daniels, who presided over the launching ceremony. "The important work of recruiting mentors will be advanced through this important partnership."

Daniels also acknowledged mentoring as a primary tool for preventing delinquent behavior and for providing our nation's youth with opportunities for developing their talents, interests and academic pursuits, according to a press release issued by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) on May 5.

Lynn Ziegenfuss, Director of the initiative, explains, “Many of these kids are considered at-risk and vulnerable to drug use, truancy, delinquency and teen pregnancy. So many struggle with a positive view of themselves and the world around them. They need more stabilizing factors in their lives – something an adult mentor can provide.”

The 2004 Federal Budget has 100 million dollars earmarked for a variety of mentoring programs nationwide, according to a statement released by the NNYM.

To provide the largest range of mentoring programs to interested Christian adults, has partnered with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, which has already established a database of more than 4,500 local mentoring programs.

The critical component for this initiative is a large-scale recruitment effort to the 100,000 churches within the reach of the National Network. One of the vision of is to have adults come to the site everyday to find mentoring opportunities and meet the needs of thousands of youths who are already signed-up in a program that requires a mentor.

Doug Tegner, Executive Director of the National Network, said, “Imagine the positive influence we could have on this entire generation of young people if thousands of caring adults caught the vision to invest a little of their time as mentors.”