Children’s Friend and Family Services Youth Mentoring Program Unites Gloucester Teen with Grateful Mentor

“I come from a big family of fourteen and my son is 25 so I was looking to fill a void in my life when I learned about Children’s Friend and Family Services Youth Mentoring program,” says Dave Willwerth. Dave has been a volunteer at Children’s Friend and has helped his mentee, Ryan, come out of his shell and try many new activities. Ryan, a sophomore in high school, had struggled to do well in middle school, had difficulty joining clubs, and had refused to try to take leadership opportunities that had been presented to him before meeting Dave. Dave and Ryan began to meet every week doing “guy stuff” like kayaking, hiking, going to the YMCA, and cooking burgers. The more they did activities and Ryan got out into the community, the more Ryan started to really come out of his shell.

Ryan applied to a vocational school to help him go after a future career- he moved from their wait list to the school at the beginning of the school year and has been very successful so far, attending classes, participating, and completing his assignments on time. Ryan and Dave also did a tour of a local fire house, and after, Ryan called the Fire Station on his own, to say he wanted to learn more about it. The Fire Chief encouraged Ryan to join their “Young Explorers” group, a leadership group of local community kids who learn from the men and women in the Fire Station. Recently Ryan became CPR and First Responder certified. “I am so proud of Ryan and enjoy the fun things we do together through Children’s Friend and Family Services Youth Mentoring program like going to Celtics games, sitting in front row seats at the circus, kayaking and playing frisbee and croquet. He keeps me young. “Dave is a wonderful and positive influence in Ryan’s life,” says Ryan’s mother, Sandy.

This mentoring program has received a Massachusetts Service Alliance and Corporation for National and Community Service co-sponsored Youth Development and Volunteer Initiative grant to enhance match opportunities, volunteer training, and youth support. Children’s Friend and Family Services seeks volunteer mentors ages 21 and older to be matched with one youth mentee from the North Shore. Youth are between the ages of 5 and 18, and as a mentor you would meet every week for at least two hours to establish a one-to-one relationship that over a year’s time matures into a genuine, caring friendship. Our mentors – like the individuals and families we serve – come from a variety of backgrounds and professions. Our current program wait list has 43 youth, there is a significant need! If you are interested or would like to know more, please visit or contact Samantha Alves, Director of Youth Mentoring at or call 978-219-1528.