Volunteer Mentoring Program

What Makes Our Program Unique?

The only program within CFCS that relies solely on community support, the Volunteer Mentor Program guides youth in achieving competence and confidence as they move into adulthood by providing a long-term healthy relationship with a caring, supportive adult. Mentors are asked to commit an initial year to their youth, and CFCS prides itself on the many mentors that continue to commit to their mentee year after year. For many of our youth, mentors are often the only positive and consistent adult presence they have outside of paid professionals.

Helping Youth Reach Their Potential

The Volunteer Mentor Program at CFCS provides one-to-one mentoring to ‘at-risk’ children and adolescents in Cambridge and Greater Boston, who may also be in our Intensive Foster Care, Family Support and Stabilization or Residential programs here at CFCS. Our goal is to give a young person (male or female between the ages of 8 and 22) in need of social and recreational development and emotional support the companionship of an adult to supplement the work of parents, teachers, counselors, social workers and education professionals.

Volunteers are not social workers, psychologists, or even counselors; they are simply caring community members—college students, retirees, and professionals—willing to share some of their life experience and wisdom. Working with these mentees requires a desire to get to know a child or young adult, a willingness to participate in open communication, and being open to the values and opinions of others.

The program is fully coordinated by CFCS staff who recruit, screen, train and supervise volunteer mentors. Mentors dedicate a minimum of one year, giving approximately 8 hours each month towards building a committed mentoring relationship with their mentee. The role of the volunteer mentor is critical to the success of CFCS; CFCS staff and mentors work together to provide companionship, support and advocacy, empowering mentees become more independent, responsible, self-reliant, and ultimately, contributing members of the community.

Click here to watch a video about the CFCS Volunteer Mentoring Program.


Mental illness is nobody’s fault, but it can impact an entire family. Young people who grow up with a family member with a mental health condition have a unique set of needs, and many can benefit from the friendship of an adult who’s been there—someone who grew up under similar circumstances and can lend support and guidance.

Heads Up is the newest initiative in our Volunteer Mentoring Program, connecting youth and mentors who share the experience of having a family member with a mental illness. Through supportive and lasting relationships, the dedicated mentors of Heads Up help youth process their emotions, learn about mental health and build self-confidence.

The initiative has an Advisory Committee of four mental health professionals and we hope to create ten new successful matches in 2014. If you are interested in learning more and for more information on becoming a mentor, contact Griselda Tomaino at
gtomaino@helpfamilies.org or 617-876-4210 ext. 4266.