Community partnerships allow us to better serve youth and their families
Our professional mentors don’t just build relationships with youth. The relationships they have with their youth’s families are unique and special. Over time, families grow to trust in their mentors and the support our community can provide.
Genevieve*, 8, and professional mentor Hailey were paired together in 2019, and they have a lot in common. They are both older sisters who love their younger siblings but getting along with them can be challenging. As an adult, Hailey has shared her experiences as an older sibling with Genevieve, hoping that she, too, will embrace her younger sisters.
During the pandemic, Genevieve’s outings took place over the phone or on the computer, or in her own backyard. She often shared her special time with Hailey with her younger sister hanging out in the background.
As Genevieve and Hailey worked on including her little sister in their modified in-person outings, Hailey learned that Genevieve would also be an older sister to a brand-new baby in a few months. Genevieve didn’t know what to expect. Genevieve’s mom, Maria*, had different concerns: she wasn’t planning to have a third child and didn’t have all the resources to gather the supplies needed for a newborn.
Because of Hailey’s relationship with Genevieve and her family, Genevieve’s mom felt comfortable sharing her fears and concerns with Hailey as she grew closer to her delivery date. Hailey immediately took those concerns to Friends of the Children–Seattle’s director of outreach and engagement, Edgar. Hailey called Edgar and said, “Genevieve’s family needs help. We need all hands on deck.” Without hesitation, he reached out to local partner WestSide Baby, who provides essential items like diapers, clothing and equipment to children in need.
Hailey went back to Maria and said, “you tell me what you need, and we will try to find it for you.” WestSide Baby provided almost all the items on her list, including a car seat, stroller, diapers, and wipes. Genevieve’s parents were very grateful.
During this time, Hailey continued to help Genevieve get used to the idea of having a new baby sister and helping her parents take care of her. When Hailey brought all the new baby items to the house, she sat down with Genevieve and her little sister and talked about each item together. The girls were thrilled to be involved and felt more prepared for the changes that were coming.
When Genevieve’s family welcomed a new baby girl to the world, Hailey said it was “the closest I have ever been to a baby being born. It was the first time I had ever seen a baby so small.” But the baby bliss didn’t last too long once the baby started getting so much attention. Genevieve was sad that the baby always cried and her mom was so busy feeding her.
“Learning moments never end when you are with kids,” said Hailey. As an older sibling herself, Hailey could relate to Genevieve feeling left out. “I am open with Genevieve about my life as an older sister, and I see that it helps her understand her relationship with her siblings.”
While Genevieve is still figuring out life with two younger sisters, Hailey is glad to support both Genevieve and her family. The best thing about the relationships we build is that they are ongoing. If Maria needs more supplies, Friends–Seattle and WestSide Baby will still be there.
“I am so happy [that] we got to come through with things that were needed and [could be] supportive,” said Hailey. “Instead of just saying, ‘good luck with that,’ we came through for them.”
*Name changed to protect youth and family’s privacy.