Being There for a Transition-Age Youth

Meg Bezucha moved to Los Angeles two years ago and wanted to get involved in the local community. Being that her brother is a longtime Alliance supporter, Meg contacted our office to become a mentor through our NextStep Program for Transition-Age Youth. Meg was paired with Darlene, an 18 year old working towards high school graduation and independence without a support system to guide her. “The experience has been so rewarding for me,” said Meg. “While I’m the mentor, I’ve learned so much. It’s given me a fuller life.”

As a former special education teacher, Meg came into the mentorship with a unique background. “People don’t need people to feel sorry for them. They need someone to listen and to just care. Suspending judgment is a big thing, and just being there,” said Meg. “People also don’t need to be changed or taught, they need to be met where they are and then you work together to figure stuff out.”

According to Meg, one of the best parts of being a mentor is having a sense of pride for another person’s ability to grow and to stretch themselves. “Darlene is so brave and she just keeps at it,” said Meg. “She is resilient and smart, and I feel like she’s just starting to believe that she can really do anything. It’s nice to witness her having those realizations.”

When it comes to Darlene’s future, Meg sees great things. “First, she’s going to get her high school diploma. Then she wants to go to college and possibly becoming a paralegal or parole officer.” Darlene has a big heart, which is evident in her desire to be an advocate and to also become a foster parent one day. “She knows how many kids are out there who need homes,” said Meg. “Her desire to become a foster parent speaks to who she is. She’s incredible.”

Darlene and Meg celebrated their one year mentorship anniversary last summer. Since 2006, the Alliance has paired 150 transition-age youth with mentors.