Community Impact Spotlight – Faithful Friends

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Our March 2022 spotlight is on Faithful Friends! Their mission is to cultivate mentor relationships that inspire growth, resilience, and hope. Their vision is to transform generations through the power of friendship.  96.3 WayFM Operations Director Ryan Trotter interviews Faithful Friends’ Executive Director Brianna Woods in this edition of our weekly Community Connect Program!

Faithful Friends Resources:

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CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO OUR COMMUNITY CONNECT INTERVIEW WITH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR BRIANNA WOODS!

Read the full interview here:

Narrator
Community Connect is a public service presentation of WayFM. Join us each week at this time as we engage in topics of conversation affecting our communities.

Ryan Trotter
Well, welcome to Community Connect. I’m Ryan Trotter with Bri from Faithful Friends with me in studio here. And first of all, Bri, thanks for coming on. Appreciate this.

Brianna Woods
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the invite.

Ryan Trotter
Yeah. So tell me, I guess we’ll just get right to it. Tell me about Faithful Friends. What is it? We all know what a friend is. We all know what faithful friend is. It’s somebody that’s going to be with you through thick and thin and all that. But what word? First of all, tell me where that name came from and what Faithful Friends is all about.

Brianna Woods
Yeah, well, you kind of stole my thunder because you just explained where it came from. So the goal, really, what we do, our mission is to cultivate, mentor relationships and inspire growth, resilience and hope. So we are founded as a faith based mentoring organization. So we work exclusively with local churches to find mentors and then schools and community organizations to identify kids aged six to nine in need of a mentor. And we asked for a year commitment, but around 70% go on your second year and around 15 to a third. So our goal is what you set. The idea of long term faithful relationships showing up for children in need who have encountered most of them a great deal of adversity at an early age.

Ryan Trotter
So in general, it’s not going to be your traditional kid that grows up in a nice family that’s taking care of his needs. It’s going to be somebody that really needs some some extra mentoring, as you said.

Brianna Woods
Yeah. And I can share some of like the stories, but also demographics of our kids. But in general, yeah. These kids are growing up sometimes with still very loving parents and supportive, but about 70% are from single parent homes. So they are kids who’ve had an absent parent in large part who are struggling in situations of poverty, who about 30% have a parent who has been or is incarcerated So we’re really trying to reach some of the most vulnerable children in our community by providing a faithful friend who’s going to show up once a week and be there no matter what isn’t going to be a person to come and leave their lives, but really to be present as they grow.

Ryan Trotter
Well, I would think that the kids that would be involved in this are kids that have had people come and go.

Brianna Woods
Exactly.

Ryan Trotter
And they’re there and oh, great. Everything’s knotted up now. All of a sudden they’re taken away. So providing that stability.

Brianna Woods
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly it. Is this these books I love, I have a six year old myself, so there’s some well-known authors of books like No Drama, Discipline or The Whole Brainchild, and they have a book also called The Power of Showing Up. And they say that the greatest scientific predictor of how any child turns out in terms of all these different categories, it’s like job educational success as a mental emotional health is whether one adult in their life consistently showed up for them. So that’s what we’re aiming at, is like that sort of scaffolding around the child, knowing that it will impact their long term trajectory of their life.

Ryan Trotter
Now, let’s go back. Tell me about faithful friends. How did this get started? How did everything come to be?

Brianna Woods
Yeah, absolutely. So our founders, a man by the name of Duncan Campbell, his story was growing up in a home of two alcoholic parents he was found wandering the street like before the age of five, looking for his parents when he woke up in the middle of the night and they were gone. So that was his sort of upbringing. But he had a teacher and a coach and people who believed in him. And he was a resilient kid and he became a very successful businessman, made a lot of money, actually. And so with that, his goal was, I want to reach the kids who grew up like I did. And so initially he started an organization called Friends of the Children, but he always felt that this was the work at the church. The church should be coming around these kids. And so that’s where we were born as faithful friends. In partnership with Josh White at Door of Hope Church in southeast Portland, they basically birthed Faithful Friends through the Door of Hope Church. Initially, it was initially actually called Door of Hope Mentoring, and then where now we’re our independent nonprofit from the church. But so that was really the heart is like mobilizing the church around these children in need. So that’s yeah, that’s our big story.

Ryan Trotter
Well, I love it. Well, we’re talking this Community Connect here on 96.3 WayFM, Portland’s Uplifting 96.3 WayFM. And I got Bri with Faithful Friends with me, so let’s give me some examples because I know you’ve got I’ll throw out a couple of names that you guys were talking about prior to us coming on air, and that’s Patrice and Harmony tell me, tell me their story.

Brianna Woods
Yeah, absolutely. So Patrice is our mentor who is just phenomenal. She comes from a church out in Gresham, and it was matched with a young a young mentee who similarly to what we said, her mom struggles with addiction, and she’s actually been raised with her siblings by their grandma. But grandma has her own health issues and struggles. And so she we have a video that will be airing soon where she just expresses, like I tell the kids, that I want to take them out to a movie and then I get sick and I can’t in her sense of guilt around that. And then she goes on to say, but Patrice, when she says she’s going to be there, she’s there and she’s able to expose my granddaughter to things that I never can and is really opening up the world to her in a whole new way and helping her to heal and come back from like the wounds of like having a parent in addiction and the absence that that’s created. And so Grandma just speaks to like Patrice is changing her life. And she says those words in the end, they’ve only been matched like a year. So imagine as this relationship grows and builds, they both see themselves in each other’s lives forever. Really. They both express that. So that’s the kind of story like that is happening on a consistent basis, a faithful friend. It’s not the quick it’s not the quick thing. It’s the long term investment that actually leads to like long term transformation.

Ryan Trotter
Yeah. And I think that’s a big thing. So tell me about how the gospel is. And it’s obviously starting with the church. Jesus is our friend these are our best friend. We’ve heard that are many of us our whole lives. So how does the gospel become? How do we how do we to the faithful friends, expose the gospel to some of these kids who haven’t seen it? And does somebody need to be affiliated with.

Brianna Woods
How do how does that work? Yeah, so we we are a faith based organization in that our whole culture and setup is that we look exclusively to the local church to find mentors. So our heart is really to have people of faith who know and love Jesus enter into his life. Now, similarly to Jesus, and I think his model before us was this idea of incarnational ministry. He came into people’s lives and he made invitations to them, but he didn’t necessarily beat them up. I mean, in my opinion, he was beating up the religious people more than that, people who didn’t know him, you know, so so in that essence, like we’re coming into their lives hoping to be a model, an example of Jesus. And as the relationship of trust is built, that they would both share what’s valuable to them, including Jesus. So and that’s a different pace for every relationship, right? We all know that. So so really that happens in time where with consent of parents is obviously very important. We don’t want to manipulate or abuse power with these kids, but that we can invite them to church or we have donors that have sent some of our kids to Trout Creek Bible camp. So the idea is first to be witness like in love and action and faithfulness. And as that relationship is built to be able to share about Jesus as it’s as it’s open like. Yeah, open by the by the kids. Yeah.

Ryan Trotter
I think that’s a big thing in our witnessing just as Christians to anybody, you don’t generally go up to somebody and say, you know, Jesus loves you and go immediately into not that people don’t people have been effective in that. And certainly if you’re listening to Spirit of God that show you to do that, then do that. But a lot of times it’s establishing a relationship. And in that relationship, then you’re able to show Christ. Sometimes what I’ve heard it said, if I could get this right, is that you should always be sharing the gospel and if necessary, use words.

Brianna Woods
Yeah. Saint Francis of Assisi, I think. Thank you. Yeah. And he was a man who was very involved in the lives of the poor. So I mean, but also I believe he was a priest, so he was doing both, you know, and but also that’s always a difference in every single person, right? Like how we show up for them in practical tangible ways and how we share about the love of Jesus.

Ryan Trotter
So we’re talking with Bri from Faithful Friends here on Community Connect. On Portland’s uplifting 96.3 WayFM. All right. One of the things that I know growing up or being in the last grown up in the church in the last, you know, 15, 20 years I’m really young right here 20 years with Sunday school kids and seen a lot of Sunday school kids come through come in from those kinds of families that you guys are a part of. One kid one time we asked hey why do you why do you come to Sunday School wider come to these events says because he said there’s stability here at home. There’s always upheaval and there’s arguing, there’s yelling, there’s fighting. But here, I know that I’m going to have stability. Yeah. Tell me about Faithful Friends and how that’s the stability that can you guys can provide that. What does it look like for a faithful friend? What are some of the things that they would do with the kid?

Brianna Woods
Yeah, absolutely. So I love that you shared that because that’s the idea, right, of the church being a place of radical hospitality. To bring in. And I think faithful friends is like almost like the parallel to that. And then we go out to be that hands and feet of Jesus and, you know, into offer invitation there. So to to be that consistent faithful friend is really the we asked for just ordinary life. Nothing fancy. Don’t spend a bunch of money that’s actually not helpful in most cases.

Ryan Trotter
You’re giving gifts for and give gifts to.

Brianna Woods
Exactly. No, no, no. We don’t want to do that. That sets up a very different relationship. But just to cook with them, to go to the park with them, you know, for a walk. Yeah. I mean, it’s all sorts of things that the the mentor I talked about, they paint horses together.

Ryan Trotter
Painting.

Brianna Woods
Horses. We have a community partner, Echo Ranch, that’s a fabulous organization that helps bring our kids out to ride their horses and that kind of thing. But they go in like paint a horse I’ve never seen it in my life.

Ryan Trotter
All right, so now we talking about like painting a horse on the canvas or we actually go to the horse and paint.

Brianna Woods
Painting on the horse.

Ryan Trotter
You heard it here. Faithful friends horse painters.

Brianna Woods
Yeah. So, I mean, you know who would come up with that, right? This is a unique passion. They both love animals and who knows how that even came about. But again, it’s also unique to the relationship that’s formed in the interest of the people. So kayaking or fishing, you know, again, it’s like that. We really encourage the mentors to say, find the interest of the child, learn them, and then help expose them to things they’re interested in.

Ryan Trotter
Yeah, well, one of the things that I want to ask about is how somebody could become a part of faithful friends. But before we do that, I we’re going to get to that. But I want give me a couple of other examples of stories maybe that you’ve seen where where people at Faithful Friends are able to have an impact on somebody, a kid in need.

Brianna Woods
Absolutely. So we were founded in 2013, so we’re coming up next year on our ten year anniversary. So we match kids age six to nine. So the goal is really early intervention. So we’re just kind of at the age in terms of the, the length of the organization that we’re getting to the point where we’ve had some mentors in many years who’ve been together a really long time, about seven years or so. So one is the mentor whose name is Rachel, and she was matched with her mentee about seven years ago now and it took a long time. She’ll tell you like, you know, her mentee was quiet and reserved and sometimes they’d barely even talk. And she’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing am I having an impact. Well, fast forward. This girl’s now in high school at St Mary’s. They were there for her Catholic confirmation, and they were they actually were invited to be her godparents, her and her husband. So it went from this relationship where it’s like, this girl’s very timid. We’re now like, she’s a high schooler and they’re there over at family dinners and really grafted into the whole extended family. Rachel told me a story where they were invited over for dinner to her mentees house, and the family said, this is the first time we’ve ever had anyone other than family over for dinner. I mean, so we’re talking about like life changing, not only the mentor and mentee, but how it ripple effects families on both sides of the mentor and the mentee. So that’s another little glimpse of just when these relationships last like that. It really it’s they’re grafted into each other’s lives and call each other family.

Ryan Trotter
All right. So I’m a little bit nervous. I’m not a person that goes out. I’m not good at making, you know, making friends, that sort of thing. It’s probably not for me. What would you say to somebody that maybe that’s hearing this and says that’s great for other people? I’m happy that Faithful Friends is doing that. What would you say to somebody like that to say, hey, come alongside us and become involved with faithful friends?

Brianna Woods
Yeah, I would say you’re not alone. I think for most of our mentors, it’s a step of faith. For them, it’s obedience to Jesus. You know, it’s responding to the call and the invitation so I’ll also say this people ask the ideal mentor, which is similar to your question, and I’m like, Well, it’s really just the person who’s ready to commit and show up because our youngest mentor is 21 and our oldest is in his seventies. Okay, so it’s not an age thing. My program director will consistently say some of our best mentors are people who are in retirement, and you can imagine like ten the jump in when you’re in your like late sixties and seventies with a six to nine year old. Like that’s a, that’s a thing that’s, that’s a big ask sometimes, but it’s really just the heart of the people who love and pour their lives into a child and to include them in their lives. So I would say like it’s the stuff of faith, you know, as all good adventures are. And, and that’s really where it starts.

Ryan Trotter
Okay. So how can somebody become involved with Faithful Friends, a website, all that stuff?

Brianna Woods
Yep, yep. So you can go to our website. It’s FFPDX.org and there learn more about who we are, what we do, and there’s actually a link there or get involved and you can fill out that form and express your interest. We typically actually start building relationships with churches at the pastoral leadership level and then like go that direction. But sometimes it comes through. Someone who’s passionate about what we do is in the church and they kind of introduce us to their leadership so that that would be the route as if you love what you’re doing. I would love to meet with you, my team would love to meet with you, share more about what we do. We have a complete training session once a month, which is 6 hours of training. That’s part of the vetting process for our mentors to come to an informational meeting, learn about what we do, and we can go from there as well.

Ryan Trotter
But maybe a good first start would be to go to a pastor. Your pastor?

Brianna Woods
Yeah. Yeah.

Ryan Trotter
So here’s something I’ve heard about on 96.3 WayFM, Faithful Friends I think this is something we could become involved with and then go, go that route.

Brianna Woods
Yeah, that’s a great idea as well.

Ryan Trotter
So real quick before we go, you guys have something coming up on Thursday, March 3rd. Be a rock gala. Yes, something about that.

Brianna Woods
This is Be a Rock in a child’s Life. So it’s our, our biggest fundraiser of the year. We haven’t done it in a year and a half because of COVID. Okay. So we we’re kind of doing a hybrid event. So March 3rd, in-person at Door of Hope Church in Southeast Portland. 5:30 – 7:30 pm is a happy hour style event. But that will be our auction, the chance to buy a raffle ticket to win a trip to Hawaii or Mexico, and just to financially support the work that we’re doing here at Faithful Friends and then also that the online portion of that will launch next Thursday, February 24th. You don’t have to be present to win so anyone can bid on any of the items. We have some great weekend trips and power tools massage for the ladies or men you know, but there’s really a wide variety of things to bid on and all the proceeds will go to help support more matches.

Ryan Trotter
That has been Bri from Faithful Friends. Thank you for coming on.

Brianna Woods
Yeah, thank you.

Narrator
You’ve been listening to Community Connect with WayFM. Join us in more conversation each week on 96.3 WayFM.

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