Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

Seattle CARES programs provide “judgment-free space”

Sometimes, just having a safe space to share, vent and heal without being judged is worth its weight in gold. That’s true for LeChelle, a Metro bus driver, who participates in regular community wellness circles, part of Seattle CARES’ Positive Family Connections. This program, funded by King County, was designed to help parents, primarily moms, de-stress, share problems and work on healing themselves.

LeChelle values her participation in the virtual meetings each week. “I look forward to discussing the topic at hand,” she said. “The platform provides a judgment-free space where I can share my thoughts without being given advice. It feels good just to be heard.”

LeChelle’s son Evan (photo, right) takes part in another Seattle CARES program, The Rising, aimed at middle school students. Evan has been a Rising scholar at Seattle’s Denny International Middle School for two-and-one-half years and LeChelle has seen the “tremendous impact” the program has had on her son. “It has helped him stay on track and keep his grades up so he can receive all the incentives offered,” she said. “He has become more accountable and more comfortable reaching out and asking for help. I hope to see him gain even more confidence in himself and to mature.”

A recent report showed the value of participating in The Rising. In a study conducted by the Bethune Institute this past school year, researchers found that 92 percent of students in Seattle CARES’ The Rising program had increased self-confidence. Racial identity and racial pride also improved as did social and emotional intelligence. The Rising is supported by King County’s Best Starts for Kids program.

When Seattle CARES transitioned to a virtual format in the spring of 2020 because of the spread of Covid-19, additional support was needed to make sure no families were left behind. Seattle CARES turned to its partners, 4-C Coalition and InterConnections, to help out. “Transitioning to the video conferencing this spring was unexpected but made possible by the technology my family received through the program,” said LeChelle. “All we had to do was turn it on and we were able to connect. The virtual sessions were amazing. They were fun and it was great for my son to see his classmates on a weekly basis. They really kept him engaged!”

LeChelle has had such a good experience with Seattle CARES that she hopes to have a mentor assigned to work one-on-one with her son soon.