Building Community from the Inside Out

Comprehensive Mentoring Services

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)


Building Community From The Inside Out


Comprehensive Mentoring Services helps grow healthy families by providing mentors to guide and encourage those who are grappling with the myriad of challenges that face families trying to overcome poverty and at-risk conditions. Hundreds of people have found the support needed to transform their lives—moving from welfare to self-sufficiency—as a result of caring volunteer mentors who have been trained by Garden Pathways. Our broad range of mentoring services, along with a comprehensive curriculum, effectively strikes at the heart of issues that keep people from reaching their potential.

Comprehensive Mentoring Services is a division of Garden Pathways, Inc. and has been selected by the University of Southern California and the California Council of Churches as a “promising practice — a program that breaks new ground and exemplifies the power of collaboration in leveraging the capacity of faith-based organizations to serve the state’s poor.” Since 1998, the Kern County Department of Human Services has maintained a partnership with Garden Pathways to provide mentoring services to its families and youth. The Kern County Probation Department also has selected Garden Pathways as its provider of mentoring services. Garden Pathways serves CalWORKs participants, family and youth impacted by gang violenceemancipating and emancipated foster youthpregnant and parenting youthother at-risk youth, and ex-offenders. Garden Pathways serves a broad range of at-risk participants in an established program that offers both individual and group mentoring for youth and adults. Garden Pathways’ emphasis on the process of engagement deals with the real barriers to success and fosters lasting and long-term changes.

Comprehensive Mentoring Services was developed to lift families who are struggling with poverty through mentoring. Amidst the plethora of public programs, case managers, and service agencies, one critical element is missing: a relationship with a caring and healthy mentor. Initiated during the implementation of California’s welfare reform, Garden Pathways has developed training, curriculum, and structures to support the efforts of volunteers who can communicate basic life-skills such as parenting, career growth, budgeting, and family organization. We use a research-based “structured, team approach to mentoring” that maximizes the impact of the mentor. Each family participates as a partner with their mentor, so that they make a personal investment in their own future, which is multiplied by the efforts of the mentor. This approach reduces dependency and builds confidence.

Garden Pathways Comprehensive Mentoring Services seeks to help each participant in three areas:

  • Grow in hope
  • Experience community
  • Develop skills



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Community Perspective

Garden Pathways Comprehensive Mentoring Services operates under the principle that healthy community requires the participation of all its members. The ultimate goal for those who receive mentoring is to become a mentor to others. Each community member and organization can be an asset bringing valuable perspective, skill, and strengths to the community. To repair the significant problems facing our cities, every healthy network and community asset must be brought to bear on the human problems of abuse, poverty, welfare dependence, and failed relationships. In spite of the the many problems that face us, some elements of the community have been marginalized in the effort to mobilize effective social programs. The faith community is one of those segments that has been bypassed in the development of social solutions, but cannot be ignored if success is to be achieved. Intentional outreach and mobilization of the substantial resources and membership of community congregations through mentoring is an appropriate and important element of a total community approach to development.

The unique cultural approach of each community element is considered in the development of mentor training and curriculum. Appropriate language and emphasis mobilize unique mentors to use their own life experience in a way that will strengthen a family or individual struggling with poverty. For those coming from a business perspective, a business enculturation approach is used in both training and curriculum. Mentors who hail from the faith community are trained using language that resonates with their world view and provided with non-religious curriculum that focuses their efforts to build hope, develop skills, and bring a healthy experience of community to each one who is mentored.

Using the principles of Federal Law found in the Charitable Choice Provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, each mentor and participant chooses to mentor or participate either from a community or faith-based perspective. This approach respects the values of the individuals while linking them to individuals with a broader network and a more positive world view. Garden Pathways has trained more than 100 churches and hundreds of mentors who all bring their unique strengths to the process of mentoring. Material and training provided by Garden Pathways finds appropriate expression in any community entity that desires to build healthy families, strong parents, and effective social interaction.


The Ingredients for Successful Mentoring
In selecting Garden Pathways Comprehensive Mentoring Services as a “promising practice,” The University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture noted, “Bakersfield’s Family to Family mentoring provides a good model for leveraging California’s faith community’s capacity to recruit and to train mentors for CalWORKs participants. The training materials are the best we have seen. The training and oversight structures are exemplary.” 

Many organizations attempt mentoring programs but often have a success rate that falls below 25 percent. That means that for every four mentors recruited, only one is able to develop a successful relationship that has the desired impact. Because three out of four volunteers have a “negative” experience, many do not try mentoring a second time and this workforce is lost. Because mentoring is perhaps the critical effort that will make a permanent difference in the lives of people, it deserves the very best program design, curriculum, and training that is available. Garden Pathways provides the very best in these areas.

What is Offered by Comprehensive Mentoring Services?
  • Expert training that prepares them to meet the participant in a 50/50 relationshipboth mentor and participant ready to contribute.
  • Structure and curriculum that allows the mentor to provide quality content.
  • Ongoing support to solve problems quickly before they end the mentoring relationship.
  • A match with an appropriate participant who has been oriented as to what will be expected of him/her.
  • Goals and direction that give the participant the full advantage of reaching for his/her dreams with the experience and support of a mentor.

 Mentoring Training
Mentoring training will prepare volunteers to be effective mentors. Items covered include avoiding dependency, how to build a partnership with needy families that will encourage their achievement of goals, the use of community resources and curriculum, and how to understand the culture and world view of families struggling with poverty. In addition, the volunteer will examine his/her own personality to understand effective mentoring methods.

Faith-Based Mentoring Training 
An orientation to effective mentoring is provided so that it resonates with the unique worldview and language of the faith community. The appropriate expression of personal values in the context of Charitable Choice approach to community service allows the mentor to serve those participants who wish to receive mentoring from a member of the faith community. The mentor is taught how to include the participant in their healthy social network and to build an effective partnership.

Transformative Education

Garden Pathways Comprehensive Mentoring Services seeks to provide mentors with the tools needed to lead participants in the development of critical life skills. Hope can be formed but without life skills, hope falls flat. 

Critical Life Skills

  • Shifting away from a crisis lifestyle
  • Goal setting and reaching
  • Dealing with anger
  • Dealing with depression
  • Successful relationships
  • Parenting
  • Home organization
  • Budgeting and finances
  • Career growth—getting and growing your career
  • Understanding your personality and those of your family
  • Building personal confidence

It’s not only what is taught, but how it is taught that is important. These skills may be taught most easily in a classroom, but that is not how they are best caught. Life skills are learned through practice and modeling. Mentors can share these skills as the needs and interest become evident.

Continuum of Care

Garden Pathways offers comprehensive mentoring services and a continuum of supportive services for all ages that address the diverse needs of at-risk families.  Communities will benefit from the coordination and personal navigation support of staff, the continuity of care, and long-term, trusting relationships that enable families to move towards a positive life. Garden Pathways provides life-changing and lasting solutions.

How to Help

 AT Volunteer as a Mentor. Your gift of one hour a week can change a family forever.

How can I help our community in a meaningful way when my time is limited?

Many feel the call to serve our community and help those in need. However, our personal responsibilities prevent us from devoting as much time as we might like. Given limited time, can I still make an impact in the lives of others? With Garden Pathways, your gift of just one hour a week can change a family forever.

Hope is a stranger to many in our community who only know poverty, abandonment, and life-dominating challenges. Investing your time as a mentor can bring the guidance, encouragement, and hope needed to change the course of their lives.

Mentoring brings hope, restoration, and wholeness that changes families forever and transforms the future of communities.

I’m not an expert. How can I help?

You do not need to be an expert to be a mentor. Mentors are ordinary people who care, guide and encourage. They make themselves available to share wisdom and encouragement from their personal life experience. Mentoring utilizes many of the daily skills that are taken for granted. If you can shop, get and keep a job, parent a child, or build a budget, then you can be a great mentor.

Garden Pathways will support you with experts. As a mentor, you will receive training and have access to a wide array of field tested mentoring curriculum guides. You also will have the ongoing support of mentoring consultants who are qualified professionals, providing their expertise when the needs of participants exceed the scope of your personal knowledge.

To Volunteer in Kern County

(661) 633-9133

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 Become a Corporate Sponsor. A strategic community investment. 

The significant impact that mentors bring to a community needs the support of businesses to succeed. Garden Pathways trains mentors to help those mentored see work from the employer’s perspective, and the changes that mentors bring to the workforce within the community. Make mentoring a strategic community investment.