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
Click for Larger Photo
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 is observed from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. This year's national
theme is "Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Community, Our
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."
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
"Life takes strange
paths," Mazie said on the CD. "If not for my son John, I would not
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
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
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
During the second
portion of Mazie's presentation, he described the mentoring program
The summer before
students' sophomore year, about 50-60 students are recommended for
the program. The recommendations come from teachers, counselors,
etc., he said.
"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."
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.
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
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
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