Offering help with homework, unwinding from the school day and planning for the future, Bethel by the Lake Outreach offers a place for youth to interact with mentors from FAMU.
With more than 90 percent of the program’s volunteers enrolled as students at FAMU, the administrators of the outreach program, sponsored by Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, feel that they are on the right path in fulfilling the program’s mission.
“Our mission is to provide a safe and enriching environment for the youth in our community,” said Remera Jones, director of programs for Bethel by the Lake.
“Before [FAMU] mentors we had a one to 20 ratio of adults to kids, but now we’ve taken our program to another level.”
Along with helping the youth with after-school needs, the mentors also counsel preteens on personal issues.
“A lot of times kids need someone to talk with outside of their house,” said Erica Bradham, 21, a senior criminal justice student. Bradham, a Tallahassee, Fla., native, discusses relationships, planning for the future and current class work with the participants.
With only a small percentage of youth in the outreach ministries; the program gives its mentors the opportunity to work with a diverse group of youth.
Mentors like Birdette Hughey feel that the youth of the community need role models.
“I think its good to have someone to look up to who is also a young person,” said the 22-year-old senior MBA student from Dallas, Texas.
By giving FAMU students the chance to interact and impact young people in the Tallahassee community directly, the mentors in the program and the director feel the program gives the college students involved a good learning experience.
“What better way to make a decision in your life than to get an experience working with kids?” Jones said.