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Goodwill seeks adults for new youth mentoring program in Portland

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Goodwill seeks adults for new youth mentoring program in Portland

PORTLAND — Goodwill Industries of Northern New England is looking for 75 volunteers over the next two years to mentor at-risk youth in greater Portland.

Mentors are being sought as part of a new program, Goodwill GoodGuides, that will pair mentors with young people between the ages of 12-17 who have legal troubles or are at risk of dropping out of school or being delinquent because of abuse, disabilities, drug or alcohol use, or gang membership. 

Michelle Smith, Goodwill communications director, said the group is looking for adults who can commit four hours a month for at least a year. The only prerequisite is an interest in helping a troubled youth get his or her life back on track.

"We're hoping it's a great opportunity for community members to get involved with youth that need a trusted adult as a role model," Smith said.

Mentors will be asked to assist young people in a variety of ways – from helping with homework to job applications. The goal is to help the teens finish school and transition into productive careers within a structured environment and with the guidance of trusted adults.

Volunteers will undergo "an intensive training program" before they become mentors to teens, Smith said.

The GoodGuides program is being funded through a two-year, $19.1 million grant from the Department of Justice distributed to 56 independent Goodwill agencies throughout the country.

Goodwill of Northern New England received a $300,000 grant that will fund programs in Portland, Claremont, N.H., and Springfield, Vt.

Smith said Goodwill hopes to maintain the program after the grant funding runs out.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or a student of the program may contact Christina Powell at 347-3229 or christina.powell@goodwillnne.org.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net