Recently, Gov. Sam Brownback announced the creation of a new mentoring program to provide guidance and encouragement to low-income Kansas families and youth in foster care. Since its official launch, we are already seeing tremendous volunteers come forward to inspire, motivate and guide our mentees.

The HOPE Mentoring program will make a difference in peopleís lives. I know, because Iíve seen firsthand how it can work. Iíve mentored, formally and informally, several inmates in the Kansas Department of Corrections. Since its inception in 2011, KDOCís Mentoring 4 Success program has helped more than 6,500 mentees transition back into our communities. The recidivism rate for those with a mentor is significantly less than half the rate for those without a mentor.

The goal of the Kansas Department for Children and Families HOPE Mentoring program is to assist TANF recipients in their transition from state assistance to self-reliance. Getting a job, keeping a job and managing the resources that are derived from a job, are not easy tasks. We all benefit from having good advice, positive reinforcement and accountability.

In July, DCF will officially rollout HOPE Mentoring for youth aging out of foster care. Each year, about 330 Kansas teens exit the system with little to no family support. Many of these young people would love to have a mentor help them make the transition to adulthood.

I became involved with KDOCís Mentoring 4 Success in 2011, and I was hooked. I saw how much it helped the mentees, and I experienced the impact of those relationships on my life as well. HOPE Mentoring is a great opportunity that will have a lasting impact on all involved.

Learn more about how to volunteer at Hopementoring.dcf.ks.gov.

Jim Echols,

Kansas City, Kan.,

HOPE Mentoring