By MEGAN GRANT HOLYOKE - For 119 years, the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club has been in the forefront of youth development in the Greater Holyoke community, working with young people from disadvantaged economic, social and family circumstances.
The primary mission of the Boys & Girls Club is to serve the underprivileged population in the city of Holyoke. In September, the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club kicked off its staff mentoring program, in which trained staff members at the club mentor one or more club members.
Over the past summer, the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership provided training for staff on the basics of mentoring and the impact it can have in a youth’s life. After the training, staff were invited to join the staff mentoring initiative. As of this month, we have successfully matched 20 of our youth with caring staff mentors.
These mentors check in every day at the club with their mentees, keeping up to date on sSubmitted photoHolyoke Boys & Girls Club youth development worker Justin Bresnahan and his mentee, Sam Texidor, attend the Dec. 30 Boston Celtics-Detroit Pistons game.
School or family concerns while also providing a reliable and consistent adult presence in the lives of our youth. The club also sets aside one-on-one time every week for each match. During this time, mentors and mentees go for a walk, shoot hoops, play cards, or just spend time together. A special event in late December allowed all of the mentors and mentees to get together and celebrate the work being done in this program.
On Dec. 30, 24 mentors and mentees traveled to Boston to attend the Boston Celtics vs. the Detroit Pistons basketball game. Program members were invited down to the floor while the teams warmed up pregame. Youth development worker Justin Bresnahan attended the game with his mentee Sam Texidor.
When asked about his experience so far as a mentor, Justin said, “I really value the one-on-one time. I don’t use it just to record it on paper, I really look forward to the time I spend with Sam. When he does not show up to our program, I feel bummed out.” He added, “I am surprised by Sam every day. He is the teen-aged version of me. I could not have a better mentee; I feel like I was designed to be his mentor.”
When asked what has been the best moment so far in their relationship, Justin said, “The moment I handed him the permission slip for the Celtics game and told him about the event. Seeing his face, I felt like I had just given a kid gold. Then, at the game, when we were down on the floor watching the warm-up, it was 100 percent pure joy for both of us.” Sam, who is 15 and lives in Holyoke, had never had a mentor before, and did not know much about mentoring before he joined this program. When asked how he felt about the program, he said, “It’s nice. I like Justin because he is so enthusiastic about things and always there to help me when I need it.”
When asked about his experience at the Boston Celtics game, Sam said, “It was a great experience for a small-town kid from Holyoke going to the home opener game in Boston. Going on the court and sitting on the sidelines while they were practicing and being there with my friends.” The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, founded in 1892, is an affiliate of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, one of the nation’s oldest and premiere youth organizations.