Friends of the Children: Making an Impact

Every child, no matter who they are or where they live, has dreams of doing big things. They have unique talents, and they face obstacles—sometimes a lot more obstacles. Our youth and the extraordinary relationship they build with mentors makes a lasting impact on their lives.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an engineer. It started when I was 10, and I disassembled and re-assembled by mother’s favorite chair. I realized that dream because someone believed in me and encouraged my unusual curiosity about how things worked. The small but regular investment in time helped make a difference in my life and the people around me.

That is exactly why I devote my time to an organization making a difference in children’s lives – Friends of the Children.

Children born into poverty are at risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, incarceration, and teen parenting. Friends of the Children provide a mentor, called a Friend, for the entire childhood of a youth, from kindergarten through high school graduation.

They have amazing results – 83% of their youth graduate high school, 93% avoid the juvenile justice system, and 98% avoid early parenting.

My favorite and most moving time has been the time spent with the older kids and graduates of the program. Seeing exactly how the program has made a positive difference in their lives has been hugely impactful. To know that a sustained investment was actually altering their lives and setting them on a positive path is incredibly rewarding. My wife, Christy, also volunteers weekly with the organization. Hearing her stories of making a difference are equally as special.

Each month, Friends of the Children selects a core asset. This month’s is Growth Mindset. I believe a growth mindset’s foundation is the willingness to adapt and change when necessary. It is a valuable approach that allows you to continually learn and improve. With the ability to change and understand you can always be better, you are unstoppable.

Now that I’ve shared this organization that’s very important to me, I want to hear about the organizations that are important to you. What causes are you passionate about? Tell me about them in the comments below.

One comment

  • This blog is significant for many reasons. It is layered with rich insights and while I distinguish them as “layers” it is important to see them from an integrated social systems perspective.

    First of all, how refreshing to read an engineer and technologist’s account of wellbeing. We all wish to live well and we wish to live well together. This manner of living we refer to as our wellbeing. Shane describes his and his wife’s Christy’s preferences for wellbeing in their support of Friends of the Children. Shane describes how moving the impact of this positive program has been and how rewarding and special his and Christy’s connections with the program have been. This down to earth, concrete example of wellbeing would serve all technology companies well – wellbeing is a manner of living well with others in our daily living. This should be the starting place for designers – the conservation of living well together.

    Second and equally important, is how Friends of the Children uses an evidence-based approach to mitigate what public health researchers describe as the social determinants of health. These results truly are amazing. With 83% of children graduating, 93% avoiding the juvenile justice system and 98% avoiding early parenting Friends of the Children contribute to the solution of the social determinant pandemic and significantly reduce public costs related to high school dropout rates, youth incarceration, and teenage pregnancy.

    Lastly, Shane’s reflections on living well reveal our humanness. We humans love our children and the children of those in our community. This is a primary contributor to our social wellbeing. Foundations will frequently use logic theory to study social impact, and in his blog Shane gives foundations an alternative for understanding social impact using not logic theory but empirical data and wellbeing. His understanding is of particular significance because it is at the core of the HP Way. While the HP Way is often portrayed by Bill and Dave’s famous garage, it was HP’s founders understanding of humanness that generated the growth of the business and launched the Silicon Valley. Here Shane conserves that understanding of humanness first described in Dave Packard’s message to his employees in the first edition of HP Measure (

    Now if we integrate all of the lessons in Shane’s blog we can see the future of technology in the conservation and expansion of our living well and living well together. This is the future of social media and technology!

    Thank you for the invitation Shane. This Tuesday I met a woman in my community who launders blankets and sleeping bags for those without homes in Lane County. A simple act with profound impact.


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