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Tuesday’s Children seeks Queens mentors

Many victims of the 9/11 tragedy never even set foot in the World Trade Center that day. They are the children who lost a parent on September 11, and Tuesday’s Children is looking for Queens adults to volunteer as mentors to these children.
Tuesday’s Children was started by family members shortly after the 9/11 tragedy, according to Jennifer Betancourt Aparicio, Director of Mentoring. Many had “realized that all of these children had not only lost a parent,” but that their surviving parent was also suffering.
The non-profit organization, which has “made a long-term commitment” to families suffering from the tragedy, started small, organizing events for families like ballgames and Broadway shows. The organization also provides mentoring, advocacy for children, next-step life skills, career and leadership training for adults, “addressing the unmet needs of 9/11 families,” said Aparicio.
Tuesday’s Children mentoring program, which was structured and implemented with Bear Stearns and in conjunction with MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, began in 2002 in Manhattan and Long Island as site-based programs. The organization quickly felt the need to expand by area and change into a community-based model, which is where volunteer mentors come into play.
A mentor volunteer receives extensive training on how to serve as a positive role model for a child and how to offer guidance and coping skills among other life lessons. A child between the ages of 6 and 16 is paired with the specially trained adult role model who then supports the child’s emotional and developmental needs and helps them build the confidence, skills, and resources they will need in life, and also to have fun.
Volunteer mentors meet with their child twice a month either at the child’s home or in the community for one-on-one sessions that may include anything from helping with homework, volunteering together, playing together, or simply providing a shoulder to lean on. Tuesday’s Children also has quarterly group outings such as ice skating, museums, Broadway shows, and the circus, and baseball or basketball games, said Aparicio.
“We are looking for mentors who can make the commitment, [are] enthusiastic, fun, and can support the children,” Aparicio said. Even though there is a minimum one-year commitment, “we’ve had a lot of success with long-standing relationships.” Mentors must be at least 18-years-old and agree to the one-year commitment. Training includes a special focus on grief and bereavement, given with NYU’s Families Forward Program.
“At Tuesday’s Children, our goal is to ensure that the thousands of children who lost a parent on September 11 never walk alone,” Aparicio said. “The importance of a mentor’s friendship, encouragement and support is incalculable. With a mentor’s help these kids will have another source of strength and guidance as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood.”
According to Aparicio, Tuesday’s Children supports 47 matches, and “well over 100 kids” have been in the program since its formation. For those interested in volunteering as a Queens mentor or for more information, visit their website at www.tuesdayschildren.org or call 516-562-9000.

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