A drunk driver brought John Andrew Mazie's life to a premature end in 1997 at age 26, but a foundation in his name seeks to improve the lives of many other young people.

More than 360 vulnerable Framingham High School students have been matched up with adult volunteer mentors since 1998 by the John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation.

"John was an extraordinary young man whose main concern was the plight of young people, who for socio-economic and/or ethnic reasons beyond their control, face steep odds against success in life," said Lauren Kracoff, director of the foundation's mentoring program.

Kracoff pointed out that mentors have always played important roles in this country.

"Whenever successful people look back, they cite those older adults who influenced their development, even if they knew each other only for a short time," Kracoff said. "For at-risk kids facing steep odds against success, finding mentors is not only helpful, but essential. They can't make it all by themselves."

According to Kracoff, the program always needs mentors.

"We match 40 high school students each year - 20 sophomores in the fall and another 20 in the spring," Kracoff said. "In addition, sometimes a mentor must leave the program, so we need to do a rematch.

"The students are referred by Framingham High School staff based on their need for an adult guide in their lives."

Mentors are asked for a minimum one-year commitment.

"Although commitment is one year, the huge majority of our mentors do stay on with their mentee throughout high school because of the rewarding relationship that has been forged," Kracoff said.

They spend a minimum of eight hours per month with mentees "in activities that will raise their self-esteem, encourage them to focus more on their education and career options, teach them how to set and achieve goals, and enable them to take control over their lives," according to Kracoff.

Kracoff said the mentees are rewarded for successful completion of 3-month, 6-month and 1-year goals. When they reach their 1-year college research goals, they receive laptop computers from the foundation. They are eligible for $2,000 college scholarships if they stay in the program and graduate from high school.

Over a dozen years, the program has had 11 mentors from the Natick Soldier Systems Center, said Kracoff, who is recruiting now for the spring and would like more from NSSC's talented workforce.

"We have had mentors from all walks of life and many from the Soldier Systems Center," Kracoff said. "The folks we get from the Soldier Systems Center are so community involved."

Volunteers must complete an application, have an interview with foundation staff, complete a CORI screening form and have their references checked before attending six hours of training in February and the match-up day in March.

For more information on the mentoring program, contact Lauren Kracoff at (508) 620-4963, ext. 27545 or by e-mail at maziedir@gmail.com.

Page last updated Thu December 16th, 2010 at 13:49