Y-Serve volunteers use their time and talents to serve Provo children who are recommended for special attention by their schools through the Access program.
Access is a Y-Serve program similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Male and female students are paired up and assigned to visit a child weekly to give them the attention and help they need.
“We mentor them and just be their friend,” said Access program director Heather Richardson. “We cater to what the child needs. Most of the children have family situations like single-parent homes or just bad situations in the family where they can’t get the attention they need in the family.”
Many of these mentors have stories where they were able to see the kind of influence they made in the lives of their “mentees.” (Mentees is a nickname for children in the program.)
Program director Monica Huang remembered a story she heard from two volunteers. The mother of their mentee asked them to attend church with them to watch the boy receive the Aaronic Priesthood and pass the sacrament for the first time.
“I think it was a big surprise to them,” Huang said. “They didn’t realize that they had such a big impact on his life, because they were visiting him, and it was just this little thing once a week, but it was actually something that really impacted his life.”
Volunteers join the program for various reasons, but they all stay to serve.
Program director Cambron Sherman said although he and a friend went to Y-Serve to help others, they picked Access because of the promise of being paired up with female volunteers.
Although Sherman and his friend did not find success getting dates with fellow Y-Serve volunteers, Sherman stayed with the organization and continues to make a difference in the lives of children as one of the six program directors.
“I work with our community service providers, and they work with Wasatch Mental Health to make sure that we have children to be mentored,” Sherman said.
Blake Allen said he stays active in Y-Serve because it gives him an opportunity to help someone other than himself during the week.
“I think I stayed just because at school you get involved with lots of things that are all focused on yourself with studying and dating is kind of about you too, and there are lots of things that take your time that are focused on you,” Allen said.
Allen wanted BYU’s student body to know there is always room in Access for additional volunteers.
“We’re always looking for people to serve,” Allen said. “There are plenty of kids in the area to help to be mentored, so if there is more people who want to do it they are always welcome to join,” Allen said. “And it’s flexible with your schedule too. It’s really flexible, and you can work with the kid whatever time he’s available and whatever time you’re available.”
Huang said there is some paperwork and training that one has to complete in order to better serve these children, including a questionnaire about basic information and a security background check. This is followed by some specific training, and then volunteers can start serving.