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YWCA Fosters Friendships for Young Women

May, 2016

Metro Newspaper Editorial Piece

YWCA Victoria is looking for dedicated and inspiring young women to participate in their long-running Asista Program.

YWCA is the world’s largest women’s organisation, present in over 120 countries. It strives to achieve social justice and economic change for women around the world.

At a local level, YWCA Victoria supports hundreds of disadvantaged women and girls across the state through affordable housing services, mentoring programs, education initiatives and events.

Asista is one of the Y’s most successful and popular initiatives. In operation for over 16 years and funded through DHHS, the Asista Program matches girls within the child protection system with a volunteer female mentor who offers friendship, support and fun to the mentee. YWCA provides training and support throughout the journey and has seen many matches go beyond the 12 month minimum commitment to life-long friendships.

The program matched mentor Catherine with her mentee Kasey over six years ago.

“I met Kasey when she was 15 and had just moved into her first foster home,” Catherine says. “I was initially struck by her confidence, sparkling personality and eagerness to hang out with me. Now that we’ve known each other for six years, I am still impressed by Kasey’s confidence and amazed that our ability to keep up non-stop chatter hasn’t faded one bit!”

The program encourages personal development, new experiences and opportunities for young women with their mentors through fortnightly social and recreational activities. The young women in the program are aged between 12 and 18 and often don’t have a strong family or community support system.

Asista Program Coordinator, Helen Coelho, sees first-hand the impact the program has on both the mentees and mentors.

“I always enjoy hearing the feedback from participants because it is so heart-warming and uplifting. The program is not only contributing to the lives of the mentees’ but also offering the mentors an opportunity to develop a rewarding and enjoyable friendship. “

The Asista Mentoring Program is looking for new volunteer mentors. Mentors are asked to commit to the program for a minimum of 12 months, with a requirement of 2-6 hours fortnightly face-to-face contact with your mentee.

If you are interested to learn more, you can read about the program here or email Helen at [email protected].