Amachi Knoxville celebrated National Mentoring Month by pairing 20 children, who have an incarcerated parent, with mentors. AMACHI [a-ma-chee] is a Nigerian word that means “who knows but what God has brought us through this child.”
Knoxville, TN – January is National Mentoring Month and there is no better way to start the year than with new, meaningful friendships. Knoxville Leadership Foundation’s Amachi Knoxville mentoring program is kicking off this celebration by matching 20 children with caring adults.
In Knoxville, 4,400 children have at least one parent in jail. Statistically, without intervention, these young people are 70% more likely to follow in those same footsteps. Amachi Knoxville provides mentoring services to a special group of children with unique barriers including those with a parent currently in state or federal prison.
“At Amachi Knoxville we believe in the power of one. One caring mentor resulting in two lives changed,” stated David Ault, KLF’s VP of Programs. “When you serve as a mentor, you enrich a child’s life, your community, and your own life.” Amachi has been a part of Knoxville Leadership Foundation’s programming since 2004.
A mentor or family unit is matched with a mentee and from there it’s simple…you spend time in friendship with one another. This “match” process is not randomized. We work to find the best mentor for each mentee based on interests and preferences discovered through the enrollment process. Match activities occur in the community (not at the mentee’s home or school). Outings are scheduled based on the mutual availability of the mentor & mentee.
Key relationships in our lives influence who we become. Everyone benefits from having a friend. The Amachi program helps children address barriers that impact their future, and challenges the cycle of incarceration by providing a friendship with a caring adult mentor. A person we can talk to, trust, and “do life” with. This is what mentoring looks like – friendship. Think about your own life, and the presence of parents, church leaders, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, mentors, and others.
One mentor, Harrison, and his mentee (not pictured) have been matched for 6 months. In that short time, they have developed a strong bond. During COVID-19, the pair have found joy in a friendship absent of the typical day-to-day distractions. Being able to spend time with the people you care about whether it’s a day playing sports or taking the time to simply sit down and talk about how life is going.
“The biggest thing I have learned from my mentee is that it takes so little to be truly happy,” mentioned Amachi mentor Harrison. “We feed ourselves so many materialistic things looking for temporary happiness and entertainment, but all it really takes is surrounding yourself with the right people.”
Mentoring studies have shown that positive, engaging mentoring relationships also strengthen community efforts to reduce truancy, poverty, drug abuse, and violence while promoting healthy decision-making. A caring adult in a young person’s life can be a gateway to all the other resources and encouragement that they need to fulfill their potential.
Research shows that children who are actively engaged in mentoring relationships do better in school, are more likely to enroll in secondary education, regularly volunteer in their communities, and are more likely to take on leadership roles in school and extracurricular activities.
For more information on how to get involved with Amachi Knoxville as a mentor or a child in need (mentee); visit www.klf.org or contact 865.524.2774.
ABOUT: Knoxville Leadership Foundation helps address unmet needs in the greater Knoxville area through collaboration, capacity-building, and program creation. Our programs focus on mentoring youth & families, empowering the unemployed, strengthening other nonprofits, and improving housing conditions for the poor. Visit www.klf.org for more information.