Volunteers at a programme for at-risk youngsters said yesterday it was a life-changing experience.
Stephen Haley said he had no regrets at signing up for the Mirrors programme eight months ago.
The 38-year-old hospitality worker added: “I decided to stop complaining about our problems with our youth and start doing something about it — helping them.”
As a Committed Partner, he meets with the youngster assigned to him once a week.
Mr Haley said the experience had changed his attitude towards the younger generation.
He added: “Watching them achieve small goals and self confidence is my biggest reward.”
Mr Haley said: “For anyone considering it, I would say the experience will not only change their life, but also the young person they are dealing with.”
He was speaking as Mirrors started an enrolment drive yesterday to sign up new people prepared to act as mentors or volunteer for other roles with the charity.
Keleé Darrell said the experience had opened her eyes to the struggles of young people.
Ms Darrell said: “I truly believe that our young people have a voice and need to be heard.
“I believe that each one of them has something beautiful to add to the world and if I can help their goals and dreams to become a reality, then that’s what I’ll do.”
The 26-year-old has volunteered with the programme for the past six months, also as a Committed Partner. She urged other people to donate their time to the “amazing” programme.
Ms Darrell said: “Our young people need to know that there are people out there that genuinely care for them.
“They need the support.”
Jamaka Gibbons said he was motivated to get involved to help to empower young people.
He said his experience as a coach for the programme’s winter camp session had shown him the massive need for guidance for young people. Mr Gibbons, 41, added: “Many of our youth seem to be angry and many have grown-up issues they shouldn’t have at such a young age.
“Many are coming up in a single-parent home environment. There is a serious need for positive male role models.”
Mr Gibbons said he had grown up without a male presence at home. He said the lack of guidance had led him to the streets, where he drifted into the sale and use of drugs.
He added: “I understand what many of our kids are going through.”
Mr Gibbons said that camp participants still kept in touch even after the programme had finished. He added: “It feels good to know I reached some of these kids.”
Mr Gibbons said Mirrors needed more volunteers — particularly men. He added: “Our kids need us. They are calling for our support.”
Denise Adams has served in several volunteer positions since she started with Mirrors seven years ago.
She said that the training she had undergone as part of the programme had also allowed her to make “breakthroughs” in her personal life, including dealing with her own experience of sexual abuse as a child.
Ms Adams, 51, now deputy chairman and assistant treasurer of Mirrors, said she also coached two young people. She said the most rewarding part of the experience was being able to nurture young people to “live their best life”.
Ms Adams added: “Simply put, I feel it a joy and an honour that these young persons give me permission to be a part of their journey to success.”
She said the investment helped better not only the lives of young people, but the volunteers as well.
Ms Adams said: “Answer the call to be involved. I guarantee the volunteers’ lives will be for ever changed, and so will another human being’s.”
For more information on working with Mirrors, call 294-9291 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.