Story and photo by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria
Fred Massey created a mentoring program that not only changed the lives of so many troubled youths, but also changed his life.
“These kids are still kids, whether they are 18 or 19, they’re still vulnerable coming into a society where they have to find jobs, find apartments, and not be taken advantage of,” Fred said. “But we’re throwing them without the support we would have for kids that would be ours.”
He is referring to many kids who leave foster care at age 18 with nowhere to turn and no guidance. As the CEO of Familylinks, a nonprofit human services agency, Fred has overseen programs that assist families in crisis.
Eight years ago, when he met Kayla, a young teen who spent most of her life in foster care because of her mother’s drug addiction, he realized the critical need for mentors. That lead him to his creation of The Mentoring Initiative Program of Familylinks, which pairs volunteer mentors with homeless youths 18-21, supporting them through life’s many challenges.
Stephanie Rex works with Fred and realizes what a great impact he has made on so many youths’ lives.
“Many of the kids that we serve, they lack that consistent caring adult in their lives that most of us took for granted, Stephanie said. “He has truly dedicated both his life and his career to serving others; he doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”
“If I help one person, and I cause an impact that changes their life, and then they can turn around and help others that’s a multiple ripple of an effect” Fred said. “I just like being able to help people. I do it because it’s in my heart.”