A few minutes a week of focused dedication can go a long way in a child's life. But how about an hour or two?
That is the kind of commitment that Kerrville's BCFS Health and Human Services asks people to make. Kamaria Woods and Michaela Carbajal are leading an effort to find 30 adult mentors for youth engaged with BCFS programs.
"Essentially, it's one hour a week or a five-minute phone call," Woods said. "It's nothing that's daunting. It's not going to take a lot of time. Say you wanted to take them out to eat we will pay for it."
It's the time that matters most.
Based in San Antonio, BCFS serves many Texas communities. Both Woods and Carbajal grew up in Kerrville, and both agree that the mentoring need here is great.
"We're trying to get them into adulthood," Woods said. "A lot of the youth in this area just didn't learn. Some didn't learn how to wash their clothes."
As of Tuesday, there were about 21 volunteers. The process requires an application, background check, fingerprinting and some training. Specifically, BCFS is looking for people to work with youth 10 to 17 who may have be on the cusp of making choices that would forever change their lives.
"I understand that working with children, people can be nervous about it; you really don't know what you're doing until you do it," said Carbajal, a Schreiner University graduate. "I want to help the mentors to the best that they can be. I think I understand what kids need right now."
For Carbajal and Woods, that means they need mentors — and they need by the end of September.
"I think it's not as daunting as people think it's going to be," Carbajal said of BCFS' mentoring programs. "Kids are a lot more easy-going than adults. They are incredibly forgiving."
One of the challenges they face is convincing people that every child deserves an opportunity.
"I will say that as a teacher, I heard that a lot about specific children," Carbajal said of the suggestion that not every child can be saved or helped through mentoring. "I like to approach it with an open mind. Just because they've done something in the past doesn't mean they are a bad kid or that they're doomed."
Instead, Carbajal argues that mentors have to put away past problems and work toward presenting options for a productive future. That sort of thinking helps shape much of the BCFC mission from transitional and independent living in the foster care system, workforce development and other services.
This early intervention program aims to help children who may have run into small problems from truancy to minor crimes. These children are referred from juvenile probation or school districts.
"Essentially, when they get in trouble, it could be truancy, or maybe vaping in the bathroom, they will get a referral," Carbajal explained. "The goal is that they don't re-offend."
While the children work with a BCFS case manager, the volunteer mentors can play a vital role in shaping the outcomes.
"I think the mentoring program because I think one person can change the outcome of what one child does," Carbajal.
For Woods, there are plenty of examples of success, and she's also still connected to those she's mentored.
"I got a text the other night from one I worked with, asking if I could look over a job application," Woods said.