Mercy Home Celebrates Workplace-Based Mentoring with BBQ

Mercy Home Celebrates Workplace-Based Mentoring with BBQ

Many children in Chicago lack resources and positive role models. That’s where Mercy Home’s Friends First mentoring program comes in.

Friends First matches well-trained mentors with youth ranging from ages 9-17 who are in need of a positive adult role model. Mentoring can take place in several settings.

The program recently held an evening barbecue for its workplace-based mentorship program that ended in June. This program gives corporations the opportunity to mentor a child for the school year.  

The two companies that participated in the program this year were the law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath and TransUnion. They were paired with fifth through eighth grade students at St. Malachy School on Chicago’s West Side.

The most rewarding part [of the mentorship program] was seeing my mentee develop a lot of confidence.

– John Hamel (mentor)

“This was a nice event for [youth] to see their mentors for one last time and [celebrate] a successful school year in the program,” said Friends First Mentoring Coordinator Carlos Martinez. 

Throughout the school year, the youth participating in the program had some incredible experiences with their mentors. Friends First does everything it can to host fun events and offer affordable activities to promote a lasting connection between the mentors and mentees. 

“We have a lot of activities [for mentors and youth] that really target helping the students develop socially, emotionally, learn skills to help them better understand themselves, and empower them,” Martinez said.

Friends First Mentor John Hamel, an employee at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, had a wonderful experience as a mentor.

[Friends First] had a lot of structured activities, and we got to participate in a lot of team-building exercises,” Hamel said.

When Hamel met his mentee, he was shy, but while working with him he noticed the young man’s self-esteem improve.

“The most rewarding part [of the mentorship program] was seeing my mentee develop a lot of confidence,” he said. “It’s been really awesome.”

The gathering concluded with an award ceremony. Some of the kids received awards for the Best Van Ride Etiquette award, Best Attendance award, Best Participation award, Most Engaged award, Leadership award, and Most Improved award. But nobody left empty handed. The mentors and mentees exchanged awards with each other that they created.

Big smiles filled everyone’s faces when they received their special award. It was the perfect way to end the evening and reflect on their year together.

To learn more about becoming a Friends First Mentor, please click here, or contact Katie Gunter at

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