How to Mentor a Family


Ways to Help a Family in Need

It is true that money will solve many problems. A tragedy, a sudden loss of a caretaker, the loss of a job, or a medical condition can leave a family in need. A universal pain point of all of these situations is a lack of funds. However, throwing money at a sad situation is not the only way to assist. It is also not always the best way to make a true difference in the lives of others.

An old Chinese proverb states, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” When helping a family in need, consider a similar approach. By teaching a skill or becoming a permanent (or semi-permanent) fixture in someone’s life, you can have an impact that is greater and longer lasting than merely offering financial assistance.

Consider these alternative methods to helping a family in need:

  • Plan and supervise a family outing
  • Offer to babysit (especially on popular date nights)
  • Cook a meal for the entire family
  • Offer to take the children to and from school or afternoon activities
  • Offer to assist with homework or special class projects
  • Teach the family, or certain family members, something new like driving, cooking, or swimming
  • Bring over holiday decorations and toys
  • Invite the family to your family outings and holiday parties
  • Take photographs of their happy moments and print the photos for everyone to share and enjoy
  • Offer to watch or walk the dog or other pet on a regular basis
  • Share with the parents free public activities you think the children would enjoy
  • Send a care package
  • Plan a special afternoon for just the boys or girls (such as a spa day or afternoon hike)
  • Purchase tickets to a sporting event or concert
  • Organize a community function to help raise money for the family
  • Assist with fixing little things around the house like cleaning out the gutters or repairing locks
  • Share a meal together on a regular basis
  • When you do something for your home, offer to perform the same service at their home. For example, when you clean your pool, offer to clean their pool.
  • Bring their children to work with you
  • Remember special occasions and celebrate them in a special way
  • Offer up things in your home that you no longer need, like gently used clothing or furniture
  • Mentor, encourage and help school children apply for college and achieve their goals
  • Attend after-school meetings or sporting events to cheer for them

Why Mentors are So Important

It’s no doubt that the $25 dollars you gift to a family will be put to good use. However, when children spend quality time with an adult they are 46 percent less likely to do drugs and 27 percent less likely to use alcohol. A positive adult relationship makes at-risk children 52 percent less likely to skip class.

The most important thing you can do for a family or child in need is consistently be there for them. No money is required to be a friend. Your friendship and constant presence will make the biggest difference in the course of his or her life and everyone in the family will be grateful for your assistance.

Additional Resources





  • Mentoring U, by Professor Jean Rhodes, available on iTunes for free
  • Mentor, by Vlaamse Dienst Voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsoleiding, available on iTunes for free
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