MYTHIRDPLACE cultivates mentoring environments so that teens are equipped to revitalize their communities and become thriving adults.
CREATE WHAT YOU WISH EXISTED
To Engage 1000 youth in mentoring relationships by 2022.
Ray Oldenburg, a sociologist and author of “The Good, Great Place,” coined the term ‘Third Place’, and was first to introduce the concept. He suggests the idea that each person lives in three places. The first place is home, the second is school or work, and the third is wherever we live life outside of the first two. While the first two places are already determined for us, we choose our third place. Examples of a third place could include a local coffee shop, a bar, the streets, or even some forms of social media. All three places are intimately connected, such that positive change in one place will result in positive transformation in the others.
We want to provide and connect teens with safe, alternative third places for them to wrestle with their questions, discover who they are, and explore life. We fully understand the importance of education in the lives of our teens and we provide some academic support. However, MYTHIRDPLACE focuses on transformation of the hearts, minds, and souls of youth through mentoring as opposed to just academic growth. Instead of simply modifying behavior, we aim for change that is internal and pervasive in every aspect of our teens’ lives. This is the heart of what we do through mentoring at MYTHIRDPLACE.
All teens need a place to learn and grow where people will love, support, encourage, and walk through life with them. Studies show that teens in these mentoring relationships are more confident in their schoolwork performance, have healthier relationships with their families, and are significantly less likely to use drugs/alcohol and skip school. However, as we looked across the various resources that existed in Azusa in the summer of 2013, we recognized that there were no spaces designed to foster the holistic mentoring teens need to thrive in every area of life and revitalize their communities.
Our faith in God and love for our community moved us to start MYTHIRDPLACE in August 2013 to ensure that every teen in the Azusa area had the opportunity to experience life-changing mentoring. When we started, our focus was on providing an after-school environment to meet teens during the prime hours of 3-6pm when they are most likely to be unsupervised, bored, and/or lonely. We also opened space once a week for interested teens from every walk of life to explore their faith in God in a place where they would be unconditionally loved and accepted. By providing a space and time for teens to engage in a variety of relevant and engaging conversations and activities, we ensured that any teen walking through our doors had the opportunity to grow alongside loving mentors. In the years following, we have widened our scope to create multiple environments for mentoring to take place, including monthly events, an enriching summer program, piloting a One-On-One Mentoring Program, and more.
Over the next three years, our services are expanding to include a Job Certification Program, Teen Resource Network, and Young Men’s Youth Conference. What started as a desire to create an after-school mentoring environment has multiplied to championing a mentoring movement not only through our own programs but through the education and empowerment of other local third place environments to provide holistic mentoring to the teens they serve.
THE PENROSE TRIANGLE
The Penrose Triangle is a direct illustration of what MYTHIRDPLACE strives for. We believe that one of the greatest blessings is having others in our lives that are committed to providing us guidance and seeing us grow. We also believe that making that commitment to others is one of our greatest callings. Our hope is that as teens enter into mentoring relationships, they become part of the cycle of mentoring. Ultimately, the hope is that outside volunteers would be no longer needed, and that the cycle would be self-sustained by youth who grow into volunteers and feed back into their community by mentoring the next generation. Just as the Penrose Triangle is a paradox, a triangle that never ends, the cycle of mentoring never ends.