Family Guidance began the region’s first mentoring program just before BB/BS came to the Pittsburgh area. The two organizations have a great relationship and mutual respect, and in truth Pittsburgh needs more than one good organization to be able to reach the thousands of children in Pittsburgh who need mentors.
Beyond the obvious similarities between the two agencies, Family Guidance’s programs are strongly Christ-centered. All our mentors profess faith in Jesus Christ and see their service as a mentor as an expression of their faith. In addition, our mentees are also invited to Promise Camp each summer. Promise Camp is one of the region’s finest camps specifically for at-risk children. (click here to go back to Promise Camp page)
We serve children throughout the five-county area — Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland, Beaver and Washington counties. Our mentors meet with their children in neighborhoods throughout the region. Some of these neighborhoods are rural, some are suburban, some are in small towns, but at the moment, we have a strong concentration in the Homewood area due to extraordinary partnerships with North Way Christian Community, East End churches, and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, comprising the LAMP program. (click here to get back to LAMP page) Also, during the summer, children from throughout the region come to southern Beaver County for an extraordinary experience at Promise Camp.
We want to be cautious about labeling kids. With that being said, we sometimes use “at-risk” as a descriptive term that points out that our children are often subject to “unique jeopardy.” Most of our kids live in underserved communities, in single- or no-parent homes, have no opportunity for church involvement, have a very limited support network, struggle in school, and exist in the cycle of poverty. While these environmental conditions do not condemn any child to a bad future, these children have significant challenges to overcome, and they can benefit greatly from the breakthrough experiences offered by Promise Camp and from having a mentor come alongside them during a critical season of their lives.
We serve the five-county area. The One-to-One Program receives referrals from family members, from churches, from schools and various agencies throughout the region. LAMP mentees are referred by the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Promise Camp’s campers generally are involved in our current programs, on our waiting list, or have a sibling in our programs, or participate in programs with some of our partner ministries. We accept a limited number of children from the general public.
We believe our mentors and staff must have a special calling to this work, and our multi-step process helps us mutually to discern that calling. Before mentors are matched with a child, there is a phone intake, thorough reference checking, appropriate clearances, and a home visit.
The multi-step process of interviewing for a volunteer mentoring position is a good way to determine the calling to mentor. We walk with our potential mentors to co-discern along with them the calling on their life to mentor. All of our staff and all of our mentors profess a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Yes! Youth Guidance is the original name of our organization, founded by the Rev. Jim Leckie in 1964 as an outreach to adjudicated youth. In 2000 we became Family Guidance, Inc., when we merged with Family Ministries, Inc., a respected ministry to men and married couples. The name change reflected the expanding mission field we believed the Lord was calling us to.
Historically we have received most of our support from individuals and church mission budgets. We are not a United Way agency, but we have been approved as a Contributor Choice donor, and friends can designate their United Way contributions to us. In addition, we count a number of companies and foundations among our strong supporters and are grateful for the impact they are having in the lives of Pittsburgh’s families. We have a small endowment and benefit greatly from two special events, our annual dinner auction and golf outing.