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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Public Affairs Office
(508)233-5340/5945

Date: October 27, 2008
No: 08-35

Director of local foundation speaks at SSC’s Hispanic Heritage Month Program

 

Lowell Mazie (left), executive director, John Andrew Mazie Foundation, spoke to the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center work force in Natick, Mass., on Oct. 15 about the Foundation. The Foundation provides mentoring to at-risk students and the program was presented as part of SSC's Hispanic Heritage Month events to observe the national theme of "Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation." On the right is Lt. Col. Kari Otto, garrison commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Natick. (Photo by Richard Walunas.)

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NATICK, Mass. --   On Oct. 15, Lowell Mazie, executive director, John Andrew Mazie Foundation, spoke to the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center (SSC) work force in Hunter Auditorium here about the Foundation as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. This year's national theme is "Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our Nation."

Mazie, together with his wife and daughter, formed the Foundation after his 26-year-old son, John, was killed by a drunk driver in 1997.

The mission of the Foundation is, "to fulfill the legacy of John Andrew Mazie by recruiting and training adult volunteers to mentor and act as role models for at-risk high school students to enable the teens to take control of their lives, to set and achieve goals, to prepare them to apply to college or other post-secondary training, and to enable them to experience success."

The presentation began with Mazie showing a CD of a speech he had done about the background of the Foundation for a "Salute to Framingham," event where the Foundation was honored for their commitment to the youth of Framingham.

"Life takes strange paths," Mazie said on the CD. "If not for my son John, I would not be involved."

John made a positive impact on all the lives he touched, Mazie said. He enriched so many lives. He was especially concerned about the plight of young people and wanted to ensure underprivileged youth could reach their full potential.

Before his death, John was working at a company in Framingham and it was this company that Mazie approached to enlist help.

The first two mentors for the Foundation's program came from John's company and then Mazie approached Framingham High School (FHS) to get the first two mentees.

He mentioned that Framingham has a very ethnic population, and Mazie said he was told that 62 different languages are spoken in the school system. Also, 65 percent of the public school population are Hispanic students.

Throughout the next ten years, from 1998 until the present time, more than 270 sophomores from FHS have been matched with mentors from the surrounding communities.

During the second portion of Mazie's presentation, he described the mentoring program in detail.

The summer before students' sophomore year, about 50-60 students are recommended for the program. The recommendations come from teachers, counselors, etc., he said.

Mazie continued, "These are the kids who are most in need of an adult in their life, the most at risk for not realizing their full potential."

Their circumstances vary, he said, coming from homes with single parents, parents who are not interested, parents who have to work all the time to make ends meet. However, the students all are in need of guidance.

The Program Director from the Foundation then interviews the students who were recommended. They explain the program and the commitment required. If the students are interested, then they fill out an application.

"It's not feasible to drag the students in," Mazie said. "They have to want help."

Once a student returns an application, the parents are contacted so they will know what type of commitment is required on their part.

The mentors are recruited by the Foundation's staff from area companies and organizations, such as the SSC.

Usually information is distributed on the program and if people are interested, they apply as mentors. Those that are accepted as mentors attend two three-hour mid-week after work training sessions. The mentors learn about problems facing adolescents and receive 52 ideas of activities they could do with their mentee.

Mazie said, "It's important the mentor understand the mentee." The mentee is going to challenge the mentor, doing things such as not showing up, not returning phone calls. The mentor has to prepare for these possibilities. It becomes a process to establish trust in the relationship.

The mentors must commit to eight hours a month of face-to-face time with their mentee, he said. For mentoring programs, that is just good practice, Mazie continued.

The Foundation also holds a match-up event with mentors and mentees, where the new mentors and mentees can talk to those who have been participating in the program for a while.

Mazie said that one important, unique aspect of their program is that they have a "Goal Achievement Award Program."

Students need to learn to set and achieve goals, he said. So throughout the time the mentees participate in the program, the three years between their sophomore and senior year, there are several events based on the mentees setting and accomplishing goals.

For example, the one-year-into-the-program mentees need to set and achieve one goal from the areas of Career, Education, Health or Personal in addition to researching college admission and financial aid requirements at three colleges, along with writing a college application essay. However, if they complete these goals, the award is a laptop computer. In March and June, the Foundation gave out 18 computers.

And for the mentees senior year goal, they need to write a vision statement of what will be true about their life five years into the future and a mission statement listing the habits and character traits that will have to be changed or acquired to make their vision a reality. The award for completing this goal is a $2,000 scholarship upon graduation, payable in up to four annual installments of $500.

As of May, 53 students from the program were attending college, and another 23 are set to graduate next June. Each year, 40 new students are admitted into the program.

Mazie said, "People tell me what a wonderful father I must have been. I tell them that John taught me how to live life with a higher purpose. I think of this program as John's final gift."

The program has been very satisfying to me and my family, he continued. When I witness the positive impact of mentors, I get an unexplainable feeling of satisfaction.


This page last updated on 10 May 2006.