Backyard Mentoring

Just the other day I was visiting with one of our mentors, Ted. Ted is a business owner in Wichita and has been mentoring for a few months. He is a tall quiet man, loaded with wisdom and experience. His protege lives in the North central Wichita in a small house with a big backyard. I was talking to Ted in mid-June and he mentioned that the backyard at his protege’s home had not been mowed yet. The grass in the yard is above your waste and the yard is about an acre in size. This was a great opportunity for Ted.

Ted asked the mom to save up $200 and then Ted went shopping for a small riding lawn mower. He found a mower and brought it to the home. His protege, Carletos was charged with piloting the mower after a few lessons from Ted. You can be sure that a 12 year old boy feels like the man of the house at the helm of a gently used riding mower.

After sweating in the heat for most of the morning and nearing completion of the project, mom comes outside and wants to rescue Carletos. Ted saw an opportunity to teach and stepped in. “We have 5 minutes of work left, we need to get this done.” Carletos gladly stayed outside and finished the work.

At the end of the day, Carletos and Ted surveyed what they had accomplished. They had begun to tame a 1 acre jungle in Carletos’ backyard. Ted then turned to Carletos and said, “Carletos you can take care of this yard. There is no reason why you should have a junky yard.”

When Ted told me this story, I was beaming. There is so much that Ted taught Carletos in this one morning

  • Finishing what you start
  • Taking pride in your work
  • Caring for your possessions
  • Honoring your mother

I could go on and on. Ted is still a new mentor, but he is a great asset to Carletos and his family. I am grateful for Ted and grateful for the many mentors like Ted that invest in the lives of children in Wichita.

News from the Mentoring Front

I’ve been working at Youth Horizons now for about 6 months. In some ways, I’m getting comfortable and in other ways I feel like I’m just getting started. The more I learn and experience, the more I see and understand the need for mentoring.

Coaching is one of the responsibilities of the mentoring staff at Youth Horizons. Our job as mentoring coaches is to stay in touch with our mentors, the proteges,  and their parents to help support the mentoring matches. I’m learning that sometimes it can be a challenge to track down the mentors and families, but it is also exciting to learn what is happening in these relationships.

Last month one of our mentors told me about a conversation that he had with his protege. At dinner together, the boy, who is in middle school said, “when I own my own house, I’m going to hang the poem ‘Footprints’ on the wall.” To which the mentor replied, “Really, why?” And the response from the protege was, “With all that I’ve gone through I can really relate with that poem. I can see that through all the difficulties in my life, God is with me.”

This may seem like a small story but it was significant in this mentoring relationship. Our mentors rarely see the impact that they are having in the life of a child. The short conversation shared above was encouraging to this mentor.

Thank you for investing in the ministry of Youth Horizons and allowing us connect mentors with children that need someone to listen them and show them they are people of great worth.

If you are investing in a child, either your own or someone else’s, I’d like to challenge to be faithful. At times it feels like we are having little impact, but  stay the course. Keep doing what is right. God is at work,  even when we cannot see what he is up to.

What do we do at Youth Horizons?

The month of January was my first month as the Mentoring Director at Youth Horizons. I’m still learning and will hopefully continue to learn. The staff there is great and the mentoring team has been awesome. Jimi, Tony and Donnovan have helped a ton as I tried to sort through how mentoring works and some new ideas to grow the program.

When you start something new, it is important to think through… what are we doing? In the simplest terms possible what is the mentoring team at Youth Horizons up to? To state this question another way.. If I were going to explain my job to Jesse (our 6-year-old son) how would I explain it to him? This is what I would say, “we help people help kids.” At Youth Horizons, we are the advocate. We are the one’s that build the bridge between the ones that need help and the one’s that want to help.

At first glance that explanation may seem kinda insignificant. At least it seemed insignificant to me until I met Dom. Dom is one of our newest mentors. He has only been mentoring in our program for 1 month, but at Dom’s interview he mentioned that he had begun mentoring a boy “on his own.” There was an at risk boy who began attending Dom’s church. Dom saw the need, reached out to the boy and started spending time each week. Dom’s relationship with the boy grew, but there was no one there to help Dom. As Dom began to experience difficulties and challenges, he needed advice, but had no one to turn to. Finally Dom had to end his relationship with the boy because of a few specific challenges that arose.

What happened in Dom’s case? Here was a guy who wanted to help a boy. He had a desire to help and so he did. But what was missing was the help and support that Dom needed to succeed. Dom’s story is an example of the important role that Youth Horizons plays in the lives of the mentors. Our mentors are people that want to help and have big hearts to give, but even the “big hearted” people need a little extra encouragement and help from time to time.

In our mentoring program we screen, train, and supervise the adults that are matched up with children in Wichita. Or stated in 6 year old language. We help people help kids.

Thanks to those of you that have helped and supported Youth Horizons through your gifts and prayers. Thanks to those of you that have supported my work at Youth Horizons, through your gifts and prayers. I’m only a month in to my position as mentoring director, and so far I’m loving the work!

Rodney Bartlett
Mentoring Director

Youth Horizons Christmas Gala

Sunday December 6th was the annual Youth Horizons Christmas Gala. This is one of our big fundraiser events each year. Earnest sangs, Craig Curry performed, there was a silent auction and we enjoyed some great food provided by Timberline Steakhouse. Each of the tables for the event were hosted by one of the mentors and proteges from the Youth Horizons mentoring program and several of the proteges got up on stage to share about the significance of mentoring in their life.

Besides the music and the stories from current proteges we also got to hear from some of the past participants of Youth Horizons work. One story that was important to me was when Nate Davis shared. Nate was a former resident of our first group home called, the Martin House. I was working at the house when Nate lived there, so it was especially encouraging to hear him speak. I captured his 2 minute story on video. I was at the back of the room with a small camera, so the video is a bit blurry, but I think the audio is okay.

Thanks to everyone that came to the gala and everyone that works to support the work of Youth Horizons. Lives like Nate’s are being changed because of the investment people are making in our work.

One Month at Youth Horizons

I’ve been working for just over one month at Youth Horizons now. I sat down here thinking I would sum up all that I have learned in the last month, but you don’t have time for that.

Instead, I’d like to just share one way that I’ve been challenged over the last month at Youth Horizons. Just recently I’ve finished reading a book called, The Hole in the Gospel. It is by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearn. There is one sentence in that book that has stuck with me. It is, “I can easily get distracted by the details of my own life and family” This was the author’s confession and as I thought about it, I realized that I am right there with him.

Buying a house, getting groceries, getting the kids to bed, paying bills, trying to squeeze in a date night with my wife. I can begin to drowned in the details of my life and forget about the primary vision or purpose that God has given me on this planet.

For me the last month has been a wake up call. It has been a reminder that, “yes” I have a lot on my plate, but “YES” God also wants me to make time to care for the “least of these”

At Youth Horizons, that primarily means caring for the Fatherless in our community. In the Wichita area alone, there are about 10,000 children that are classified as at-risk kids. Through out the US there are about 25 million children being raised in a home without a dad.

Currently I am not mentoring a child her in Wichita, but I have been praying about taking that step. In the last month, I’ve also been reminded of the great responsibility that I have to care for my children and ensure that I’m faithfully investing in them.

The Move from Vancouver to Wichita

The last few months have been filled with lots of transitions. As usual our kids weather the storm a little bit better than we do. I think that as long as mom and dad are around and the kids get a small dose of cartoons each week all is right with the world.

However, I thought I’d check in and see how they are doing and talk to them about what they missed about Vancouver and what they like about Wichita. It appears that Emily was a bit confused about which city is which, but that’s okay. She did let us know in the video that she “likes horses” 🙂

Tiffany and I are doing well. Tiff has gotten settled into a small group and has been trying to make it to the Y regularly. Now that we are in Kansas, walking is not part of our normal routine like it was in Vancouver, so trips to the gym are required.

It has been great being back close to family as you can see from the video, the kids have loved being around their cousins.

We’ve enjoyed being back at River Community Church in Wichita. Although it has seemed a little surreal being back. It is crazy being at such a “big” church after being a part of the Bridge for the last 7 years. It is also odd to go from being involved in the work of the church to trying to find a new place to fit in.

I am experiencing a bit of transition in my work currently. Over the past two years, I’ve been working with a new company called Reachd. We teach business owners to grow their business through web marketing. After we arrived in Wichita, I was approached by Youth Horizons about a job in their mentoring program. Youth Horizons provided one on one Christian mentoring to at risk children as well as provides a residential program for at risk boys.

Initially the job was going to be a part time job with the prospect of growing into a full time position. Recently plans have changed and I’ve been asked to take a full-time position at Youth Horizons. Youth Horizons is a non-profit and is funded solely through donations and grants. Taking me on as a full time employee will be a stretch financially for Youth Horizons. I have agreed to help by raising part of my own support to cover this position. If you would like to support us via prayers or financial contribution, please let me know.

We are grateful for what God is doing in our lives here in Wichita and are grateful to be back. Although Vancouver still feels like home in some ways, we are confident that we are in the place that we should be.

Questions.. Comments.. Drop one below or email me

Jesse Surgery and Back to Normal

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Several weeks ago our middle guy, Jesse was in the hospital having his appendix out. It was a scary time. He did amazing and the hospital was awesome as well. This is a video of his time in the hospital the video below is him at the park. Life is back to normal for Jesse.

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