WWVA Students Mentor Through Friends Program
“The friends program is awesome,” says Nate Treadway, a senior at Walla Walla Valley Academy in College Place, Wash. “I get to spend time with my buddy, and he always looks forward to it. It’s made me a kinder person to all my fellow classmates and friends.”
Treadway is not alone. Many of our upper-division students are currently volunteering in the Friends ABC Program in the Walla Walla Valley of southeast Washington.
The Friends ABC Program is a school-based mentoring program serving high-need schools in Walla Walla and College Place. Volunteers in the program visit once a week with their young friend, with all visits occurring on school grounds during lunch period. Volunteers are rigorously screened and trained and are matched with kids who have similar interests and hobbies.
Whether the time is spent playing tag or coloring together, the half-hour visits provide a consistent time and space the child can count on. This one-on-one time is a precious gift for children who are often lacking positive adult role models. Both parents and teachers find that children who participate in the Friends ABC Program are more likely to be successful academically and socially.
Treadway, along with several of his classmates, answered the call when WWVA’s chaplain and Walla Walla University Church pastor Troy Fitzgerald made an appeal during chapel earlier in the year. Fitzgerald has long been an advocate for the program, helping connect those willing to volunteer with the organization for many years.
“It’s a great fit for what we are trying to instill in our students at WWVA” says Brian Harris, WWVA principal. “Our mission is to empower our students for Christ, and one of the avenues to this goal is through community connection and service. By serving those around us we get outside of ourselves and become God’s hands and feet. Yes, the kids who are mentored by our students get a benefit — but our students receive a huge blessing in the process.”