Year of mentor activities for 50 vulnerable youth

by Friends of the Children


"The environment I grew up in was hard and made school a struggle. My Friend John and Friends of the Children gave me the stable environment I yearned for and needed. I needed a positive male role model, and John was it. John taught me never to give up and to always give back.

I thank John and every person at Friends of the Children for helping change my story and the story of the future generations of my family." - Jimmy Tyrrell, Program Graduate

Thank you for supporting Friends of the Children!

Your generous giving at throughout the year helps create stories of success like Jimmy's, and hope for the future for young children.

Thanks to you, we are able to make a 12 ½ year commitment to each of our youth, selecting them in kindergarten and staying with them through high school graduation. 12 ½ years. No matter what. 

Giving back is not an occasional habit but a way of life at Friends of the Children. Throughout the year, Friends frequently find ways to engage their kids in community service, and every summer, the FOTC community service committee plans a full-day service project that all are welcome to join. At this summer’s service event, called Care Day, the kids delivered lunch to local workers and tissue paper flowers to senior citizens in assisted living.

In the morning, as kids arrived at the FOTC basement with their mentors, they sat together coloring paper lunch sacks. Some were still groggy and slow-moving, even resistant to the idea of pitching in. Once everyone arrived, they formed an assembly line cranking out PB&Js and adding fruits, veggies, and cheese to the lunches. This hands-on activity woke up the stragglers, and by the time the group had produced a few dozen meals, the kids were all upbeat and eager to help. About half of the group took a van to deliver the food to laborers at a nearby immigrant center. One 12-year-old boy, Robbie*, really took the lead in finding hesitant men who hadn’t claimed a meal and approaching them with the childishly decorated bags of food. It was clear that, although he couldn’t quite articulate it, he loved reaching out to help: “That wasn’t half bad,” he said, as we walked away from the site. Meanwhile, the kids who stayed back at the office made thank you cards and delivered them to the FOTC staff.

After lunch, the group made brightly colored tissue paper flowers and passed them out to the overwhelmed but delighted residents of Marquis Piedmont.  One man followed the group around the home after receiving his flower, watching them visit the other seniors. He smiled as he looked on. “I love getting to see kids,” he commented, “You know why? I raised 12.” Edna, a tiny lady who had seemed sad, promptly and wordlessly put her flower on top of her head and sat looking happy as a clam. The kids loved this and crowded around to see her; everyone agreed Edna stole the show.

When everyone circled up to reflect at the end of the day, the Friends said they were proud of the kids for their positive attitudes, and the kids expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help others. Sarah*, 15, said it best: “I liked how everyone put a lot of love into what they were doing, like we weren’t just here because we had to be or someone made us.”


*Names have been changed to protect our program youth. 

Dear Steve,

I would like to say thank you. Not just an average thank you, but the best thank you that I could ever possibly say. Thank you for letting me experience this little section of the world I probably wouldn’t have seen without you. Thank you for the countless meals at restaurants and our own creations. Thank you for understanding me through countless talks and problems we have solved.

I could go on forever thanking you for everything we did, but I would really like to thank you for teaching me about myself both mentally and spiritually. Thank you for your continuous support and help on my journey going into college. Thank you for never giving up on me and continuing to be that one person I can always count on. Truthfully i don’t know where I’d be if I never knew Friends of the Children or especially you. So, thank you and God bless!


Program graduate


I would like to share with you a little bit about my young friend Blake* who recently lost his foster dad, Ryan*, to a long battle with cancer. Blake is in 10th grade and has been in the Friends of the Children program since 1st grade. He grew up in a couple of great foster homes due to his father’s struggle with drug addiction, and has been with his current family, Ryan and Anna*, for about 5 years.

Ryan and Anna were very committed and loving people who opened their home and their hearts to Blake and four other boys in need of fostering. Ryan was a friendly man. He always greeted me with enthusiasm whether I was calling on the phone or walking into the house. His friendliness and laid back approach was a nice balance to Anna’s tough love approach. They were a good team for the boys.

The months before Ryan’s passing were both encouraging and challenging for Blake. Blake played basketball and came out of his first semester with his highest GPA, a 3.7.  However, he had a very nice “long” term relationship with a girl that ended this past month. The morning of Ryan’s passing, his foster mom called me to ask if Blake was with me. At that time she shared the news that Ryan would not make it much longer. I knew a bigger storm was coming for Blake.

I spent the day with Blake that day. I knew Ryan’s passing would be tough for him because Blake loved Ryan and always talked fondly of the time they spent together. It was especially hard for Blake because he never really knew his biological father. My fear was that Blake would sink into a real funk. He didn’t have much to say during our outing, but I thought it was important to just “be with” him. At the end of our time, I said a couple things to him:

  1. You are loved by me.
  2. You are loved by the community at Friends of the Children.
  3. Tough times will come.
  4. You will have it within you to get through tough times. You have a resiliency that is evident.

I then shared a quote with him that is written above the gym entrance at his high school, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” I didn’t have to finish it, he knew.

With the support and love of great foster parents like Ryan and Anna and the community here at Friends of the Children, I believe Blake is going to be ok. He is going to be more than ok because he has hope. One thing I know that Blake believes, is that he will never walk alone.


*Names have been changed to protect our program youth, photo does not reflect youth in story.

Sometimes as a Friend when you are first introduced to your new kindergartner buddy, it is magical. You can feel the relationship starting to bloom and what you hope will be a very long term friendship forming. It didn't exactly go this way for Audrey and me. We hit a lot of road bumps early in our journey together. Audrey is and was mature beyond her years, with knowledge and understanding of the world around her like I would never anticipate from a child her age. Audrey and my first outing together felt a little bit more like I was working with a teenager than a 6 year-old. She was funny, she gave me very specific directions to a restaurant she wanted to go to, and she shared insight into what she perceives of the world around her. Audrey and I had to work hard to build trust in our relationship. It quickly became clear to me that she had been let down by adults in the past and was unsure why I would be any different. Audrey's methods of pushing boundaries and testing my reactions were unmatched. As we went about our weekly trials, I started to slowly but surely learn Audrey's story and in a way I also became a part of it. Audrey and I have found the Zoo to be one of our special places together. We took our first trip to the Oregon Zoo together to learn about different ways adults can work with animals, and it turned into one of the best afternoons of my life. We talked about our families and our passions in the world, we had fifteen minute conversations about what each of us would do with our lives if we were birds or monkeys, and in the end we wrote a list of other things we wanted and needed to do together by the end of the summer. Other, more experienced mentors had told me of these outings; the ones where the kids finally let you in and it forever changes your relationship together. It was nice to finally feel it for us. Unfortunately, a lot of youth we get to work with at Friends of the Children are pushed in one way or another to leave their childhood early; I have seen a lot of that in Audrey. I am confident that she trusts she does not have to be a grown up with me yet. Thanks to patience, time and some resources, Audrey and I have slowly moved away from the testing phase of our friendship and have found a space with each other to relax, play, learn and be ourselves. I am grateful to have gotten to know this smart, funny and truly special little girl. I can't wait for the adventures we will continue to embark upon in our time together, and of course to check off the events on that list.



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Organization Information

Friends of the Children

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Friends of the Children
Project Leader:
Karin Zimmer
Portland, Oregon United States

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