Patricia Mitchell became involved in the Youth Companion Program at the Washtenaw County Family Independence Agency in Michigan several years ago. She volunteered her time and attention as a Big Sister starting in 1991 and has continued with the program to the present. She has been matched with the same young lady, now 14-years-old, for more than eight years now.
The Youth Companion Program is a mentoring program that matches adult volunteers with children in need of a caring adult in their life. The program serves boys and girls ages five to seventeen that are generally referred by a social services worker. The volunteers spend time weekly with the children and serve as role models and adult friends to them. The volunteers also spend valuable time with the children, helping with homework, social skills and introducing them to new experiences.
Mitchell is described as having gone over and beyond her call as a mentor. The bond between Mitchell and her Little Sister happened very early in their relationship and has been strengthened through the years. There have been some very rough periods for this child (physical abuse, emotional abuse and trouble in school) and Mitchell has been there through it all. She has been there for unconditional support.
In addition to their weekly meetings, Mitchell has included her Little Sister in family trips; their annual tradition is a weekend at an amusement park. Mitchell’s Little Sister has spent the night several times at her house and met new neighborhood friends. Mitchell, additionally, has helped her Little Sister obtain jobs as a babysitter. When her Little Sister was in need of braces, Mitchell, after exhausting efforts to find an agency that could help, arranged and transported the child to her appointments and paid for the cost of the braces.
In addition to the one-on-one time Mitchell spends with her Little Sister, she is also very active in attending Youth Companion program activities as well as giving support and guidance to new companions.
Besides the above-mentioned volunteer efforts, Mitchell also volunteers in other areas of the community as well. Her most recent effort was running in a marathon for the Leukemia Society. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined her; however, she still raised $2,200 for the cause.