About the Program:
UN Association of Georgia (UNAG), in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, launched My Senior Friend program in January, 2011. The program aims to work with youth who have certain set of problems in their lives and are in need of extra positive impact. The idea of the program is to match the junior and senior friends, based on the similar to each other personalities, hobbies and interests. Volunteer mentors (senior friends) spend certain amount of hours per week with their junior friends during the initial 12 months, advice the kids on how to better lead their lives, motivate for better academic performance, inspire kids for self-development, encourage reading, sports and healthy lifestyle, show good example of success, promote social responsibility and have fun together at the same time.
The main goal of this program is to strengthen youth’s trust towards people, change minor’s attitude towards school, promote social responsibility, make new friends and encourage the kid to be successful in life. The program helps youth to develop confidence, a sense of belonging, and an acceptance of responsibility for their actions. The program also aims to promote the social responsibility not only among the kids, but the society in general.
UNAG accepts applications (website under construction) from different institutions and people. Applications are provided online on the website, and any organization working with the kids of the target age, are encouraged to refer the youngsters to the program.
After receiving referrals, the program contacts the Referral source and the family of a junior friend to determine the interest in participation. Upon family approval, the program schedules an interview with the junior friend. After the interview, a junior friend is placed on a waiting list till a good senior friend match is identified.
As for the Senior Friends, the program conducts orientation to present the program and its goals to potential senior friends. The program directly harvests the applications online from the volunteers who are willing to become the senior friends and provide a continuing commitment to the program. Senior friend is also requested to provide four recommendation letters from colleagues, friends, family members and/or neighbors, people who know the candidate personally and can talk about the candidate’s personal character. After processing the application and the recommendation letters, the program will schedule an interview with the potential senior friend. Screening and background check of volunteers will be performed. Upon completing these procedures, the program decides whether candidate is suitable for this program, and places him/her on a waiting list.
Program Participants / Friends:
The program builds friendships between the young people in need of a positive role model, and the adults that are successful, enthusiastic, positive and eager to be friends with a junior and walk him/her to a successful and healthy life, responsible citizenship and productive membership in the society.
Adults with minimum bachelor’s degree education, successful in their careers, financially sustainable, positive personal character, good communication skills, potential to be a good role model for the junior friend.
Children of 12-17 age, which suffer from any of the certain set of problems in their lives and are in need of extra positive impact. Juvenile risk factors might include the problems at school, low enthusiasm to study and/or attend the school classes, problems with parents, domestic violence, loss of parents, incarceration of family member, minor delinquency and other minor problems with law, use of illegal substances by the junior and other problems that may affect the kids future choices and life decisions.
Organizations that work on juvenile delinquency and general juvenile development issues, and refer the children they think could benefit from the program. As the resources of the program are limited, it is essentially important that we find the youngsters that truly need a friend and all those benefits that these friendships offer, the most.
Partners, volunteers and contributors:
People and organizations that donate to the program, or the businesses that provide their services gratis, those who help the program with promotion and recruitment of new senior friends, those who volunteer for program events, and other people who help the program make more friendships, keep working and growing, are equally valuable participants of these friendships.