What it Means to Mentor a Foster child: YC4KF Volunteer Opens Up
YC4KF Volunteer, Cathy Bombace, opens up about her experience as a mentor to a foster youth, what it meant to her, & how to become a mentor to a foster youth in Yavapai County
Mona Stephens & Cathy Bombace
In honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month, Yavapai CASA for Kids foundation (YC4KF) wants to shed light on what it is really like to work with a foster youth. It is a common misconception that to help a foster child one must become a foster parent, CASA, or donate to an organization. If you want less commitment with all the impact, consider mentoring a foster youth. Below, YC4KF volunteer, Cathy Bombace, shares her story of mentoring a young foster youth in Phoenix and how fulfilling it was.
“I have always had a soft spot for children in need”
“As a young child, I was adopted into a wonderful and loving family. I used to think that I would pay it forward by adopting a child myself. As life happens, that did not come to being. I did have three biological children, but never forgot where I came from.
I decided to return to school in my adult life and became an elementary school teacher, which I absolutely loved. I taught fourth grade for many years. About four years ago, I heard about Arizonans 4 Children organization in Phoenix, Arizona, where I was living at the time. They had a partnership with the foster care system in Maricopa County.
I thought long and hard and decided to apply to become a mentor for a foster child. After completing the application and interview process, I was introduced to a 10-year-old girl, named Noel.
I remember our first meeting. She was in a group home with several other girls, where she was one of the younger ones there. It was suggested that I bring something with me, like a game, for our first introduction. If you would ask my daughters, they would say undoubtedly that I brought the game, Boggle, knowing that was my favorite game to play with them as they were growing up. As it turns out, it was a wonderful first meeting and a long-term mentorship with Noel for two years.
“I have so many wonderful memories with Noel. “
We went many fun places, had great talks, and I also helped her with schoolwork. I kept in touch with her teachers and cared deeply for Noel. She really enjoyed doing things with my children and grandchildren too. Once we went to a park with a lake. Two of my daughters met us there and we all had a blast. We did face painting, went on rides, and even went on a paddleboat.
Sometimes, we would take my dogs to a dog park and laugh at them running and playing with other dogs. Many times, we would go to Goodwill so she could pick out books to buy. That was really special to her, since she was not able to get her own library card at that time. She loved telling me all about her books when we would get back together again. I have so many wonderful memories with Noel.
I watched her go from a young 10-year-old girl to a 12-year-old preteen. After 4 years in foster care, Noel went to go live with her extended family in another state. I miss her every day, but am so glad for the amazingly wonderful experience that I had with her and all that I was able to offer her and as well as she gave to me. I am planning on extending myself and continuing to mentor children through different organizations in my new hometown of Prescott, Arizona.”
How to Become a Mentor to a Foster Youth in Yavapai County
Cathy’s story is beautiful and has encouraged a member of the Yavapai CASA for Kids Foundation team to apply to become a mentor. If this story has done the same for you, reach out to call YC4KF’s friends over at Arizona’s Children’s Association and ask about their Thrive Mentor program: 928 443 1991. You can also email Elizabeth Glascom at mentor@Arizonaschildren.org for more information.