Did you know that in the United States, we are suffering from a mentoring gap? Studies show that 1 in 3 young people in the U.S. will reach the age of 19 without having a mentor.
Mentorship has a profound impact on young people's lives. According to the website www.mentoring.org, youth who meet regularly with a mentor are 52 percent less likely to miss a day of school, 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using drugs, and more than twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or on a sports team.
As a kid, I grew up visiting family in prisons across California. These visits encouraged me to do better and to become interested in a career in law enforcement. I had many positive interactions with people in law enforcement which led me to join the Explorer program at my local Sheriff’s Department when I was 14 years old. In the Explorer program, I met officers who became my mentors. They motivated, counseled, and encouraged me.
In 2021, I joined the SAFE Family Justice Centers (SAFE FJC), Boys Council program. The mentors at SAFE FJC were people I looked up to. They motivated me and pushed me to see my true potential. These mentors helped me realize that I could continue to break the cycle to which I had been exposed earlier in my life.
Because of my positive experience in the Boys Council, I wanted to give back what these mentors have given to me, so I volunteered in their Police Activities League to be a mentor. I also applied for a position to become a Youth Service Specialist with SAFE FJC. My career goal is to become a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy and work in the City of Perris. I am dedicated to giving back to my community and making it a safer place to live.
I have seen how much my mentors have impacted me, which made me realize the impact I can have on others. Serving as both a mentee and mentor has shown me how crucial it is for youth and adults to have someone in their life to look up to. My mentors made me realize that I do not need to stay trapped in a statistical environment. I can break the cycle of what my family has been through. I am honored to be that vessel now through SAFE FJC and in my future career.
A good mentor challenges you to push your limits. They are also sympathetic, patient, and understanding with the ability to connect with their mentee on a deeper level. At SAFE FJC, I have experienced that bond to understand that they have helped me become a better version of what I am today. I was able to gain guidance on my direction in life and be able to realize the potential I have.
Will you join me and mentor a youth this month?
Our guest blog author, Cain Gonzalez is a Youth Specialist at the SAFE Family Justice Centers. He is 18 years old and is pursuing a career in law enforcement. Cain has participated in the Riverside County Sheriff's Department Explorer program for four years and is currently the Explorer Captain.