By Thembi Williams, OreMi Mentoring Program Supervisor

“Being a mentor has made a huge impact on me. It prepared me to become a dad. It’s also reminded me of the importance of community.” – OreMi mentor, matched since 2008

January is a time of new beginnings, fresh starts and setting goals. It’s also National Mentoring Month and the OreMi Mentoring Program encourages Oakland Local readers to ask themselves how they can effect change in the community by contributing to positive outcomes for local youth.

“Mentoring has opened my heart — and that has made all my relationships better — for me and for them.” — OreMi mentor, matched since 2009

The OreMi Mentoring Program, a program of Family Support Services of the Bay Area (FSSBA), serves Alameda County foster youth and children of incarcerated parents by fostering one-on-one transformative mentoring relationships with community members. Since 2004, the OreMi mentoring program has matched over 100 youth with mentors—members of the community who volunteer at least four hours per month to spend with a child for a year.

For some of us, our main role models were our parents. We took cues from them about how to navigate the world around us, how to order food in a restaurant, how to open a bank account, how to advocate for ourselves. Most of us can probably think of at least one informal mentor who dramatically impacted our lives even if neither party appreciated the significance at the time. It could be the school counselor who gave you the nudge you needed to apply for college, or the coach who took the time to show you how to throw a football. It may be the babysitter who taught you how to style your own hair. Many of us don’t realize how much one conversation or bit of shared advice can impact a child.

“It taught me that it is ok to have fun like a kid again” – OreMi mentor, matched since 2010

Mentoring increases academic, social and economic prospects for youth, which positively impacts society as a whole, yet one in three children will reach adulthood without having a mentor. Every young person needs someone to talk to, a positive role model who can provide consistency, guidance and an opportunity to experience new things. Go to a street fair, take a bike ride, go for a walk, cook together, share hobbies, or learn something new. Mentors aren’t superheroes; they’re everyday people, role models, friends, and confidants.

“It has enriched my life in a big way. I love being an influence in a young girl’s life and learning how to do that along the way from OreMi” – OreMi mentor matched since 2010

To learn more about becoming a mentor with the OreMi Mentoring Program visit To learn more about the benefits of mentoring visit


Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.
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One Response

  1. MNewman

    Mentoring is so important for children in foster care, who are growing up with constant changes in their lives. Every child deserves to have a trusted adult who really stands by them. If you really want to make a positive change in Oakland, becoming a mentor is a great start.


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