For Tara Jordan, coordinator of KidStart for the John Howard Society of North Island, it’s more than just a job.
She’s known as a tireless advocate for children and families who come to the John Howard Society struggling with poverty and other challenges.
“It’s a big part of my heart,” says Jordan.
Her work involves matching children with mentors. Those relationships can transform the lives of those at-risk youth for the better. Jordan describes her work as an honour and a privilege.
“I get to see what happens when the child gets to match with a mentor,” she says, “that support person who is their one-to-one, non-judgemental, caring, loving, wonderful person that becomes key to turning their page to a better life”
Single mothers often find themselves juggling part-time jobs while burdened with childcare after a divorce or breakup occurs and the father stops paying child support.
Children suddenly go from having two parents to just one who is rarely at home, because she’s busy working.
The children then start getting into trouble at school – and very few government resources exist to prevent them from falling through the cracks.
“If a child breaks the law, if the child hurts someone, then there’s millions of dollars for the judicial system,” Jordan says. “But when there’s a child that hasn’t done any of that yet, but they’re starting to wave every red flag… there’s nothing for them, except KidStart.”
Mentors help children build their self-confidence, improve their literacy and math skills, and provide other kinds of support that single working parents often can’t do.
A flood of community members cited Jordan’s positive and generous spirit in nominations for the Local Hero Awards.
“Her attitude is always positive, and her passion for supporting families is contagious,” one nominator said.
Many described Jordan routinely putting in volunteer hours beyond her part-time role at the John Howard Society. She’s known for driving families to the food bank and other appointments on her own time.
Jordan said she has 140 children on her waiting list, and they wait an average of 2-5 years for a match.
Above all, she said that KidStart needs men to volunteer a few hours a week as big buddies.
“There’s a lot of families that need this support.”