We are grateful for volunteers like John Binhack who make a difference in the lives of refugee youth. John was paired with his mentee, Patrick, in 2020 as part of our Youth Mentoring Program.
I decided to volunteer at Exodus because of their important mission of serving the refugee population here in Indiana. Exodus plays an important role in setting up and connecting refugees who come to Indiana with important resources to establish themselves for success. The Refugee Youth Mentor Program interested me as it would give me an opportunity to play a mentor role in a refugee teen’s life, and help them in their goals in transitioning to adulthood.
It has been a highly rewarding and 100% virtual experience. My mentee – Patrick is a current senior at a local High School in Indianapolis and is graduating in the Spring. Listening and helping him in his goals during the initial steps in the program and then working to reach those goals have really been rewarding for me in seeing Patrick excel when given the help and connections he needs to succeed.
My favorite moments have been helping Patrick reach his goals, providing advice and insight as someone who was going through some of the experiences he is dealing with as a High School Senior, and helping him by being a connector to services so he can thrive in the future. Two favorite examples of mine were helping Patrick with creating a resume template that helped him in securing a job in Summer of 2020, as well as helping him along the long process of applying to colleges during the Summer and Fall of 2020.
The volunteer experience has taught me that programs such as the Youth Mentor experience are critical to the long-term success of our refugee youth in Indiana. If we as volunteers can serve as mentors and connectors to other services for refugee youth and help them achieve their goals, then we have served a small but important role in their success as they transition to adulthood.
Although I was born in Indiana and a U.S. citizen, refugees are just like myself and value many of the same things all natural born Americans hold as important. Things we hold important such as family & friendships, educational attainment, quality job opportunities, and strong work ethic are just a few things that refugees bring and strive for when they resettle in our country. Many Americans do not see this connection, and by volunteering in the Youth Mentor Program and being an active voice of support for Exodus it gives me a chance to help educate my fellow friends, peers and colleagues.
Other things I think of that many people should know is the U.S. resettles refugees from some of the hardest hit and conflict ridden areas and countries of the world. Many of us cannot begin to relate to the misfortunes and experiences these families have gone through in order to make it to the U.S and the long journey they go through in order to secure resettlement in our country. This is why I am proud when I hear of the countless success stories of refugees thriving and succeeding in our country because of the opportunity they were given, as well as why I am glad to volunteer at Exodus as they play a great role in the resettlement process!