Helping students with big challenges
One of the biggest challenges for students in our youth programs is that even though they spend their days in a positive, future-oriented setting, each night they must return to what Rob Wormley describes as a “hard core urban environment,” where gun violence, robbery, and drug dealing are the norm. But most of the students, to their credit, eventually find ways to transcend their surroundings.
Biggest challenges for students
When the students in TAP’s youth programs are acting out, Rob knows there’s more to it than meets the eye. “Even though it looks like anger or being bad,” Rob explains, “I know there’s a lot of hurt underneath all of that. If you can get to the hurt you can change a lot of the actions.”
Rob, who works as a mentor coordinator and recruiter with our youth programs, has such a keen sense of his students’ struggles because he remembers his own youth. Rob grew up in a single-parent home and spent his school days fighting and getting in trouble. He was expelled twice before finally graduating.
The students Rob works with face big challenges. Some are dealing with homelessness, addictions, and mental health struggles. Others are facing gang violence, broken homes, and poor educational track records that have left them with few options. “They make a lot of bad decisions because they’re not thinking right—they’re in a tough situation,” says Rob. “I came from that background and I see the pain every day and I feel it.”
We’re here to see them win
When the students get involved with TAP, though, things start to change. They have a family of fellow students to lean on and staff to turn to. They are bettering themselves every day, going through job-readiness certification and learning for the first time that the classroom can be a positive setting. Most of all, Rob makes sure they are heard. “I do a lot of listening, letting them know that I’m not the enemy, that I’m here to see them win,” he says.
Finding peace between gangs
Rob describes two young men he has mentored who come from rival gangs. His main message to them was that just because they came from different gang backgrounds, they didn’t have to be enemies. And, he has poured time into both of the young men’s lives. “We have had a lot of talks,” Rob says with a smile. As a result of his investments and his counsel, the young men have been able to not only coexist in the program, but have become friendly.
We need you to make this happen
While Rob’s mentoring has been effective for these young men and for many others in our youth programs, he can’t do it alone. The students need mentors and tutors to step into their lives, to help them with their schoolwork and to be a caring, positive presence. We especially seek adult mentors who have come from the same background as the students and who can empathize with the challenges they are facing.
If you’re ready to make a difference in a young person’s life by serving as a mentor with TAP, please contact Kevin Liptrap, to learn more about mentoring and how you can get involved.
In response to COVID-19, TAP’s youth programs have begun meeting in groups of fewer than ten.