It Takes a Village


At Four Oaks, we believe in building broad-based opportunities for youth and families to succeed. To accomplish this goal and to carry out our mission – “to assure children become successful adults” – we rely on community volunteers who share their time and talent making a difference at Four Oaks.

It’s because of volunteers like Dr. Mary Kemen that we are able to accomplish this goal. Kemen, an anesthesiologist with St. Luke’s Hospital, has volunteered with Four Oaks for five years as a mentor to youth with the TotalChild® Workforce program. In her role as a mentor, Kemen has gone on job shadows with youth and met with them one-on-one to discuss their educational and employment goals.

“I think the statement, ‘It takes a village’ is really one that we should give more credence to. I think we all kind of laugh at it but we really shouldn’t,” Kemen said, “because it is true, that an entire community should help raise every child.”

Kemen said that’s what she sees herself doing as a mentor.

“I think that so much of what this mentoring group does is take people at that very delicate stage of life in which they have to begin to develop independence and help them find a path,” Kemen said. “They just need people to take their hand and help them along the way. It’s been very worthwhile doing this.”

Kemen said she hopes that others in the community will consider mentoring youth.

“I really hope that this program will thrive. And I hope they continue to get a variety of people from the community, especially those who have unusual stories or very unique entries into a profession or into the working world,” Kemen said. “I think hearing the stories of other adults has a really big impact on these young people. I highly encourage others to join the mentoring group.”