Just In Time Shares Another Success Story on Mentorship

| February 5, 2023 | 0 Comments

For 20 years, Just in Time has been pairing youth with caring adults from the community to act as coaches and mentors. This investment of time and attention has helped many youths avoid the negative outcomes projected for them and flourish. More than most young people, current and former foster youth have the potential to benefit from meaningful relationships with mentors and role models.   

The shock of the Columbine shootings in 1999 inspired Don Wells to take his first steps toward becoming a youth mentor. Working at a local San Diego news station at the time, Don Wells used his position overseeing Community Affairs to recruit male mentors for young men who might otherwise take the same destructive path as the Columbine shooters. Through this campaign, Wells became a mentor to nine-year-old Victor and his eight-year-old sister Belen. The siblings had already been in and out of foster care for many years. One day when Belen was 11-years old she turned from the movie she was watching and asked Don Wells, “Why are you still here?”  The three-year connection with Wells was the longest continuous relationship to a caring adult she had ever had. 

More than 20 years later, Don and Belen are still in each other’s lives. In fact, in 2022, Wells officially adopted Belen. And he is no longer working at a local news station. In 2003, he began volunteering at the (then) newly formed non-profit Just in Time for Foster Youth – an organization dedicated to empowering former foster youth by connecting them to both resources and meaningful relationships with adult mentors. Today, Belen is thriving, and Don Wells is Just in Time’s chief empowerment officer (CEO).  

Sources and Stats provide an alarming reality of the challenges of at-risk youth:

  • At-risk youth are less likely to have mentors and more likely to want one: 29% of all youth vs. 37 percent of “At Risk” youth – The National Mentoring Partnership – study by Civic Enterprises in association with Hart Research Associates. 
  • 76 percent of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspired to enroll in and graduate from college versus 56 percent of at-risk young adults with no mentor – The National Mentoring Partnership – study by Civic Enterprises in association with Hart Research Associates. 
  • Approximately 36 percent of youth who leave the foster care system experience homelessness. 
  • 14 percent of prison inmates report having been in foster care at some point in their lives.

Dedicated volunteers and financial support is important to the future and success of Just In Time. To learn more about the program and to get involved, visit https://jitfosteryouth.org/wtt2023/.

Belen (left) and Don Wells are examples of the success of Just In Time, which provides adult mentors for at-risk youth.

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