The Parent Mentor Program matches parents of past patients with families who are walking through the doors of St. Jude for the first time. The program also matches newly bereaved parents with mentors who have also lost children. Mentors are St. Jude parents who provide support, encouragement and insight, helping families of newly diagnosed patients navigate their journeys through treatment. Mentors draw on their own experiences to provide a special connection for those trying to grow accustomed to a new way of life in the hospital or at home.
The program includes 45 active mentors who work within five clinics. The program has reached 400 families in the past five years. It has received positive feedback from parents and staff alike and has become a unique and special part of patient care from the psychosocial perspective. The program’s exceptional growth has been a testimony to its positive impact on the lives of families as well as to the hospital’s emphasis on family-centered care.
Connie, a St. Jude parent who was enrolled in the program, reflects on her mentor, stating, “Every day I am thankful for her kindness, laughter, insider info, cheers for every little milestone, and simply knowing that she is in this with me and for me.”
When parents are asked why they return to join the program, they often say that mentoring is a great way for them to give back to St. Jude.
“While I had a couple other patient moms unofficially mentor me, I wish a program like this had been in place during my early months at St. Jude with my son,” said Kelly Church, a current parent mentor. “Now I am so excited to have a way to give back to a hospital that has given me the most precious gift – saving my son’s life.”
The Mentor Program exemplifies the effort St. Jude invests in ensuring that our patients and their families are well supported. As the program continues to grow and expand, Volunteer Services looks forward to the future and the continuation of building strong relationships to care for St. Jude families.