Now more than ever, our community’s vulnerable youth need compassionate adults in their lives who can model the way and help instill a sense of self-worth and confidence as they work to overcome obstacles. At Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, we have always believed that one caring adult can make a huge difference in the life of a child. By connecting students, particularly those at a high-risk of dropping out, with a positive adult advocate, CYC shows students new possibilities and guides them down pathways to success.

One mentor who has made an incredible impact in the life of his mentee is Ande Weinstein. Ande began mentoring Chaz Reed in 2001 when Chaz was just a 9-year-old student at John P. Parker School. Over the course of 17 years their relationship has grown beyond what either of them ever expected, and Ande beams with pride when speaking about Chaz’s impact on his own life. Ande shares, “Chaz has taught me how little it really takes to have a positive influence on someone. I’m proud of how he’s grown into a young man and happy that he asks himself how to handle a situation or conflict before acting.”

Raised by a single mother, Chaz did not have a male role model in his family to provide guidance and reassurance. The absence of a parent in the home is considered one of ten Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs are traumatic events that result in Toxic Stress, and these experiences can negatively impact the development of a child’s brain and cognitive functions. Ande came into Chaz’s life at a pivotal moment, and his presence alone provided the positive encouragement that Chaz needed from a caring male role model.

Chaz, now 26-years-old (and a foot taller than Ande!), gives tribute to Ande for making the greatest impact in his life during his high school years. Going into his junior year, Ande exposed Chaz to the basic functions of running a small business during a summer job opportunity at his office. Chaz shares, “During that time I learned a lot from Ande. I learned how to communicate in a professional setting, how to be responsible with my finances, and how to have compassion for others. He showed me what it means to make sacrifices in order to achieve my goals, and most importantly, he taught me how to separate my needs from my wants – a lesson many of my friends never learned.” Ande helped Chaz believe in himself, modeled the importance of communication with others, and reinforced the importance of positive relationships. Chaz credits Ande with helping him grow into the man he is today. His success is nothing short of remarkable.

Unfortunately, not all of our community’s youth have had the opportunity, as Chaz has, to benefit from the guidance and wisdom of a CYC mentor. Do you know someone who is interested in becoming a CYC mentor? Please consider sharing this article, (and your own mentoring story), within your sphere of influence. CYC has an especially great need for male mentors at this time, and we could not fulfill our mission without a caring and invested community.

Thank you for all that you do for CYC’s mission, and for being a part of your mentee’s life. You make our community and world a better place!

Please visit this link or call Cincinnati Youth Collaborative at (513) 363-5200 to learn more about mentoring.