When Edvin Cortez’ mother signed him up to be a mentee with the Westfield Youth Assistance Program, Cortez dreaded the idea.
Now 18 and a student at IUPUI, his views have changed. Cortez was partnered with mentor Chad Gross in 2014. They were together for four years. Even though Cortez has since graduated high school and aged out of the program, he stays in touch with Gross.
“Once I got to know Chad, my views changed,” Cortez said. “Growing up, I didn’t have a father, and it was hard for me to accept that. Since I met Chad, and to this very day, he has been the father figure in my life. I struggled with depression, anger problems and a stepfather who challenged me.
“At the end of the day, Chad was always there for me and he has helped shape me into the man I am today. To me, WYAP changed my life, and I will forever be grateful.”
Now, Cortez works is an accountant for Kroger in Westfield. He encourages men to become mentors in the WYAP program. Cortez also serves on the WYAP board.
“I would encourage men to become mentors because of how they can shape a young kid’s life,” Cortez saidl. “They’re someone their mentee will look up to and trust, someone they’ll be turned to for advice, someone their mentee can find support in, and every kid needs someone like that in their life.”
WYAP is in need of 20 male mentors. For more, visit youthassistance.org/westfield.