Jackie Santos is a mentor with the PATs Program through the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, Inc. Time is the most precious gift a person can give, and though it is free; it is sometimes the most hardest gift to part with. Santos is the mother of three young children and holds a management position with a large bank. However, she makes the time to be a part of 18 year-old Lucy’s life and Lucy’s 15 month old son.
Santos completed the PAT’s fifteen-hour training in the Fall of 2001. She was then matched with “Lucy,” a seventeen year old teen mom. Lucy’s parents are deceased, and she has been an open DYFS case for most of her life. She has lived a live replete with abuse, betrayal and loss. However, the saddest dimension of her and her baby’s life was that they had virtually no adult support or encourangement.
At the time of their meeting, she was living in a group home, not working and not attending GED prep classes on a regular basis. Santos and Lucy formed an almost immediate bonds which continues to grow. With Santos’ caring support and encouragement, Lucy’s situation has changed for the better. Lucy is now in school, working and living in a stable home for the first time in many years.
Her relationship with Santos has caused her to think about choices before she makes them and realize the affects of what she does. She is more confident in herself as a young woman and is realizing her potential more and more each day. Santos makes herself available to help Lucy with every aspect of her life and she rejoices with Lucy after each new obstacle has been overcome.
In addition to being a caring support person in Lucy’;s life, Santos has been a determined advocate for her mentee within the system. She has also provided practical partening and life skills. Clearly her most important contribution has been that she is always there for Lucy. At present, Lucy and the baby are doing well and hopeful about their future.