Mentorships Matter


Sheri Jones-Chamberlain faced a slew of obstacles while growing up, and often, she made the wrong decision. 

"I feel like if I had a mentor growing up then maybe I wouldn't have made some of the mistakes that I did,” Sheri said. That’s what inspired her to become a mentor with BEST Kids, an organization that matches mentors with foster children in D.C.’s welfare system.

Because foster kids are moved around so much, they are often plagued with attachment disorders, said Krislyn Mossman, executive director of BEST Kids.

Photo courtesy of BEST Kids, Inc. 

Photo courtesy of BEST Kids, Inc. 

“But going through the foster care system it’s something definitely very difficult," Krislyn said. "It’s not really a normal upbringing. Pretty much everything that’s meaningful to you gets ripped away and that’s something that’s obviously very difficult for the kids we work with, obviously.”

At present, there are about 75 children who are served through BEST Kids, with plans to expand. Mentors are asked to commit for a minimum of a year, and to meet with their mentees for 10 hours a month. 

“[We can do] pretty much anything you can think of as long as it’s local and not overnight," said Sheri.

Photo courtesy of BEST Kids, Inc. 

Photo courtesy of BEST Kids, Inc. 

Gretchen Rydin, who’s been a mentor to the same child for more than 3 years now, has pretty much done it all with her mentee.

“I took him sledding last year - his first time ever - and it was exciting to watch him learn how to do it and master the sled, said Gretchen. "After the first few times down the awesome sledding hill at Takoma Park Middle School, he wanted to quit, as he kept falling off his sled, but then we switched sleds and I encouraged him to try one more time and he nailed it. I even caught a giggle, which was music to my ears coming from this 'too cool' pre-teen."

About the Author: Marcella McCarthy is a freelance health writer with The Miami Herald. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Marcella holds dual Brazilian/American citizenship, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. She lives in the Washington, DC area.