Big Impact – Real Results
Since 2006, more than 6,500 students and 8,300 mentors have met for over 528,000 hours in relationship-building activities. This time together has resulted in almost $6,800,000 in tuition assistance to students who want to attend a Seventh-day Adventist school.
In addition, since 2014, participating schools that have been in a part of the PFE grant for two years or more have seen a combined increased enrollment of 1,050 students.
It is important to talk about the dollars awarded to students in the program or the number of mentors committed to mentoring students or the number of meals cooked or loads of laundry or even the hours spent in playing games or reading. However, we hope you would experience the genuine relationship building between a mentor thirsting to share their wisdom and a young student full of energy to fill that cup.
We’ve always thought we were making a positive impact on children and empowering them to succeed. Each year, our nation-wide surveys confirm this.
The Study – Current Student and Mentor Mid Year Surveys
The Assist and PFE impact is evident from the responses to our 2017-2018 mid-year survey. We found that:
- 76 percent of mentors said they value the joy of having a child in their home.
- 90 percent of mentors said they like hearing about the child’s day at school, discussing careers, growing up, and life lessons.
Think back to when you were young. Who helped you to believe in yourself and what you could accomplish? Our mentors work hard to encourage and support today’s children. When those children believe in themselves and what they can accomplish, they’ll enjoy better relationships with their friends, families, and peers, and they’ll help create safer, stronger communities. One-on-one attention from a caring adult role model is a key part of developing self-confidence.
The program’s impact on students is confirmed by:
The mentors in the program also encourage children to work hard, recognize the value of education, and develop skills to ensure their success in school, work, and life.
- 50 percent of middle school and high school students now realize the importance of keeping commitments.
- 69 percent now feel confident when asked to do something outside their comfort zone.
- 75 percent have learned to care for someone outside their family.
The activities the students and mentors shared were everyday activities: talking, baking, crafts, yard and garden work, playing games, reading and discussing Bible stories, and performing work around the house.
But what matters to the children were not the activities. It was the fact that they have a caring adult in their lives. Because they have someone to confide in and to look up to, they are, in turn, doing better in school and at home. And at a time in their lives when even small choices can change the course of their future, the students are also positively influenced to make wise decisions. Even now, more than 22 percent of students want to read the Bible more.
In their own words:
- Matthew, 4th Grade - "My mentor helps me with the difficult of reading. She really cares about how I do."
- Sarah, 7th Grade - "I've enjoyed every visit with Bera. She has taught me so much about living way back when, cooking, backing, and her love of family and God. I can't wait to see her every week to see what we get into."
- Julitza, 8th Grade - "It is so nice to spend time with someone who is not your family, but they come to be like family."
- Camden, 5th Grade - "I have had several mentors over the past three years that I have participated in the PFE program. I learned about science and how things work; I have learned about pottery, how to make things, fire them, and paint them. Mr. Carl is on the quieter side. I feel that I have been able to teach him new games and talked about books with him. The PFE program has been a great experience for me, and I hope to be able to continue in it.”
- Rachel, 3rd Grade - "I like to help her with every thing she asks me to do. And I like to play with her. And I like to read Bible stories with her. And I like to help her decorate her Christmas tree. And I like to pet her cats. And I like to help her in her backyard. I like being in PFE."
- Keith, 10th Grade - “I think Assist is a great way for teenagers to get to know adults and learn how to help others. It teaches teenagers to be selfless and more caring for others.”
- Quintin, 10th Grade - "Assist is a wonderful program for students to help others, and it helps us to be selfless and show love for others."
The Study – Assist Alumni Survey
Between April 11 through 13, 2018, the office of Assist and PFE conducted an online survey of 27 current university students (Assist Alumni) that participated in Assist at their academy.
Overall, surveyed Assist Alumni believe that having worked in Assist during academy was very important to them and contributed significantly to the person they are today. They report having been in Assist resulted in genuine, positive outcomes.
Confirming that long and enduring mentor relationships are possible and important, about 63 percent were in matches of two years or more and a large percentage remain in touch with their Mentor today. Some cannot remain in touch as their Mentor has since died.
While working in Assist, alumni overwhelmingly view their job as the best job on campus while over 90 percent of Assist Alumni believe their interactions with their Mentors gave them advantages over classmates not involved in Assist.
Value of Assist
Large majorities of Assist Alumni reported important benefits associated with participation in Assist, as evidenced by their descriptions of the influence program participation had on their lives and their perceived success compared to peers not in the program.
- 74 percent said that their relationship with their Mentor was very important or important.
- When asked to indicate the impact of having a Mentor in their life, over 53 percent strongly agreed their Mentor was able to teach them the importance of helping others; to give them confidence; to teach them things they would not have otherwise learned; and to instill values and principles that have guided them through life.
- A greater gift from their Mentors was to give Assist Alumni hope and change their perspective of what could be possible in their lives.
- Assist Alumni reported that they would not be the person they are today—a better person—if it were not for their Mentor pushing them to set higher goals than they would have. Over 40 percent stated that their Mentor helped them a lot in making better choices while in academy, and another 44 percent said their Mentor helped a little.
Discovering Calling and College Success
Being in the Assist program influenced aspects of their education, current jobs they hold while attending college, and has helped them to make better decisions overall.
- 63 percent of Assist Alumni state their Mentor inspired them to reach for a higher level of education than they thought possible, and 51 percent said their Mentor played a role in the Assist Alumni’s decision to attend college. Almost 45 percent of the responses ranged from important to extremely important about the influence their Mentor over their decision regarding their major and/or career. In addition, 63 percent state their Mentor had a great deal of influence on how to be successful in their school studies.
- Respecting the life and property of others, having confidence in their abilities, being a good team player, treating classmates with respect, being honest and learning right from wrong are all character traits that Assist Alumni say were positively influenced by having a Mentor.
- Assist Alumni overwhelmingly attribute their time working in Assist to developing life skills that make them better students and employees. These were improving communication and interpersonal skills, understanding the importance of keeping commitments, and improving their ability to meet deadlines and punctuality.
What Assist Alumni Are Saying
"Assist is an amazing program that I think more student should be a part of. I became very close to my Senior; sadly though, she died right in the end of my senior year of high school. I cherish the time that I shared with her. We both had a strong impact on each other’s lives. I grew to love that woman; I am different because of this job."
"My senior mentor has been through a lot in her life but she talks little about it. Over the years, I gathered bits and pieces of her past and was amazed how positive she was about life and that she never complained. That has really helped me to handle current struggles in my own life. Shortly before she moved away, she showed me a bunch of family pictures, one of which was her 1947 wedding photo of her and her husband when they married after the war. I really enjoyed that window into her life. We still communicate occasionally through cards; I really like to keep in touch with her."
"My senior mentor was the most amazing woman I could have ever met. Because she was paralyzed, I believe I helped her do many things that other girls may not have been able to do for their other mentors. Although my mentor passed away, I have memories with her that I will never, ever forget. She taught me how to bake, cook, clean, and do things that will stick with me for years."
"One of my mentors is a neighbor of mine. She has no family and my family made friends with her during our time in the same neighborhood. Because of Assist, I met with her frequently and continue to maintain our relationship. This means a great deal to her and we still invite her over for holidays and sometimes for dinner."
"My favorite memory is also my biggest regret. For two years, I worked Assist in two separate nursing homes. During my first year, I developed a relationship with an extremely sweet lady named Linda. On my last day of work, I discovered that Linda was forced to move across the hall to another room the day before. She was extremely upset and distressed over the fact that she was uprooted. She was crying and making quite a fuss. I entered her new room and just sat with her until I had to go home. During that time we talked, I prayed with her, and I was simply there listening. She calmed down after a while, but then started to cry again. So I sat there and we hugged each other as she cried. I eventually broke the news to her that today was my last day. She became so sad. She asked me if I was leaving her and I assured her that I wasn't. I promised that I would return and visit her, even though I wasn't going to be working there anymore. That promise put a relieved smile on her face. When I was about to leave, I made the promise again, and I walked out the door. I fully intended on going back to visit her, but I was an inexperienced 14-year-old girl with no real sense of responsibility yet. I forgot about my promise and moved on with my life. A few years later, I remembered my promise and guilt flooded over me. I tried calling the nursing home to see if she was still alive, but I never got an answer. To this day, I don't know if she is alive or dead. If she's alive, does she still remember me? Or has she forgotten me? And if she died, did she die living with the hope that I would walk through the door? Or did she die hating me for never returning? I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I made a childish mistake as a child, but regardless of age, your choices have consequences. My experience with Linda taught me that lesson. Realizing my mistake shocked me into learning that I needed to uphold my promises, regardless of my own situation. If I make a promise, I am going to fulfill it. Assist helped me grow into the woman I am today. Lessons I learned and mistakes I made helped shape me into a better person. The job forced me to mature and it made me respect the elderly so much more than I had. So many treat them as if they are children, and that is infuriating to me. Much of the time they are mentally just as capable as you and me, if not more so. Their bodies have simply begun to deteriorate, but we treat them like their minds have deteriorated as well. It is extremely insulting and rude. Instead of looking down on them we should be looking up to them in order to learn something that only a lifetime could learn."