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Stories / Youth

James' Story

James has spent over 70 hours volunteering with us following graduation. We're deeply inspired by his story.

James Hamilton, now 20 years old, joined our program at age 5. A shy child with great potential, James was paired with Upendo Jefferson. Upendo helped James become more extroverted and open. “I did view Upendo as a family member,” said James when asked to reflect on his relationship with his mentor. Upendo helped connect James with resources and opportunities and encouraged James to work hard and graduate from high school. “They gave me lots of opportunities and lots of connections. I don’t think I would have or been connected to situations in life or internship opportunities. They are there for you, whatever resources you need,” says James. Upendo was James’ mentor for 10 years, before retiring and passing away shortly after.

Friends of the Children commits for the long-term and connected James with a new mentor, Marcel Hauser. Marcel supported James through his final years of high school and is still a resource for him as he is enrolled in college. Since graduating from high school, James has volunteered over 70 hours with our chapter. He is also entering his third year of college, studying human development at Washington State University. He hopes that someday he will have a job similar to what his mentors have done – help people reach their full potential.