The ability to break the cycle of abuse and neglect goes far beyond simply providing foster youth with food, clothing, and shelter. Without exposure to typical childhood experiences and positive adult role models, these children will grow up believing the family situations they have experienced so far are the norm, making them more likely to repeat these behaviors when they become adults.

“During my two years at AKP, Sam was a huge source of support and inspiration for me. Whether I needed help with a difficult situation, had a bad day, or just needed someone to talk to – no matter how busy she was she always made time for me, as a mentor and a friend. With Sam’s support and encouragement, I am now pursuing a rewarding career and looking forward to a bright future. Even though I have moved on from AKP, we remain in touch, and I know she will always be there whenever I need to talk to her about anything, good or bad.” – AKP Alum

Samantha Mellen is a true unsung hero and champion for A Kid’s Place mission, not only for the tremendous impact she has made on our organization in her current role as Development Director, but perhaps even more importantly for the encouragement, guidance, and inspiration she has provided as a teacher, mentor, and role model for our children from the very first time she walked through our doors as a volunteer over 12 years ago. With her infectious smile and upbeat attitude, children of all ages at AKP just want to spend time with her. She has a passion and talent for bringing people together and helping the most vulnerable youth in our community, and began volunteering at A Kid’s Place when she gathered a group of friends and family to host an annual toy drive for the children. Two years later, she came on staff as Office Coordinator, but before long showed a talent for putting together unique and successful fundraising events and moved into the role of Events Manager before being promoted to her current position as Development Director. Despite the significant time commitment of her daily work responsibilities, Sam has always gone above and beyond for our children, spending a significant amount of her free time as a teacher, mentor and friend to many of the older teens and young adults at A Kid’s Place. Sensing her compassion and generosity of spirit, these youth seem to gravitate to Sam and are comfortable opening up to her without fear of judgement. She has a natural ability to mentor them, celebrating their victories and praising their accomplishments, but not hesitating to challenge them if they make questionable decisions. In these ways she is able to fill some of the hole in their lives left by parents who are either unable or unwilling to provide the love, support and guidance that is so important during the critical teenage years.

“Sam has been a mentor for me as long as I can remember, and she is a natural at it. She helped me navigate through the difficult teen and high school years, and I have seen firsthand how she has done the same for the youth at A Kid’s Place, treating them just like family. On her free time, she takes them on outings away from the campus, spending quality one on one time with them in a setting where they can feel more comfortable opening up. She always pushes you to be the best you can, and she is the first person I go to for advice. “ – Family member

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