Mentors are role models that represent our young people and provide a support system that believes in their success and potential.
Friends–Seattle hires mentors who share similar experiences with the youth we serve. Mentors are role models who represent our young people and provide a support system for each of them to achieve success and fulfill their potential.
Stefan Hauser, a professional mentor and Friend, started his career as a teacher and shifted to mentoring when he learned that it was a paid position. That was ten years ago.
“I felt great about making the shift to having a more direct impact on the students that I was teaching,” Stefan said. “I was teaching students who were struggling in different aspects of their lives, and I couldn't really get in,” Stefan said he wanted to connect with families and provide the support that would change their lives. The problem, as Stefan saw, it was that “the families didn't really see me as an ally.”
Friends of the Children builds trust by partnering with families enrolled in the program. We work alongside them to support their children in reaching their goals. Now Stefan has a more direct line to the families and could make an impact on his boys. “I feel like I am family to my youth and their families,” Stefan said. “It takes time to build those types of relationships, and mentorship is not a one-way thing. Families are also involved 100 percent, and that makes all the difference in the world.”
Stefan works with nine young men, and he is determined to be by their side when they walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Stefan said that his boys have a mentor for life. “I want to know when they graduate from college,” Stefan said. "I want to know they get married. That is what it is at this point.”
Mentoring wasn’t a random calling for Stefan. His father was incarcerated for 20 years. Growing up, Stefan and his siblings had different male mentors throughout their lives. “Mentoring matters to me because without mentors in my life as a youth, I would have most likely followed my father's footsteps that led him to the penitentiary,” Stefan said.
Stefan remembered having African American men who challenged him in academics and sports that helped him become the man he is today. Stefan had one teacher who put him in a gifted math class with students who would motivate him. Stefan received an A in that class, and it changed his life. “My teacher believed in me early on,” Stefan said. “He saw my potential before I ever could, and he didn’t give up on me.”
Now Stefan can give back and mentor younger generations with the hope to continue this cycle of success. For the past ten years, he has excelled as a professional mentor and was recently honored for his work at Friends. Stefan received the National Super Star Award for the entire Friends of the Children national network. “I am proud of the award because that year my boys worked really hard,” said Stefan. They were transitioning to high school when Stefan won the award. “It’s a big honor, but I can’t take full credit,” Stefan said. “I told my boys that I won because of them and their success. So they shared that one with me.”