Mercy Home’s Friends First Mentoring Program recently kicked off its 31st year with its site-base launch at the West Loop Campus. Over 60 people attended the fun-filled event, including mentors, mentees and family members, as everyone got acquainted with each other and planned for the year ahead.

Of the 17 matches on this year’s roster of mentors and mentees, some were returning pairs from last year, while other matches were meeting for the first time. Ice-breaker games and autograph bingo helped facilitate introductions, before matches enjoyed one-on-one time, games, and family activities. The launch event also included tours of the campus and lunch.

Josh, a 10-year-old mentee, sat next to his mentor Jake. As a returning match from last year, the pair had fun catching up and laughing as they “kicked field goals.” Josh made a goal post with his hands, while Jake aimed and flicked a folded-up paper triangle with his finger.

“My favorite thing about Jake is how he’s super funny. He very kind and awesome,” said Josh. “My favorite things we did last year was going to the arcade and going mini golfing.”

Jake returned the praise, not just for Josh, but the entire Friends First program. “I love Friends First. I’m actually recruiting quite a few of my friends to get them involved,” Jake said. “The Friends First staff make it very easy by providing materials, ideas, and recommendations for outings. The program fits into my life very easily. I really enjoy it and look forward to it every other week.”

“The Friends First staff make it very easy by providing materials, ideas, and recommendations for outings. The program fits into my life very easily. I really enjoy it and look forward to it every other week.”

Like other matches at the launch event, Josh and Jake spent time working on their goals and bucket list. On tap for the upcoming year: walking dogs, ice skating, roller skating, rock climbing, origami, and writing their own Declaration of Friendship.

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