Faith-filled counseling, mentoring and coaching adapts to serve community


Organizations like MarriageTeam and His Heart Foundation work on new strategies for fall

VANCOUVER — It has been a challenging road for many nonprofits and faith-based outreach organizations in Clark County since the start of the pandemic. The beginning of fall, however, is a time of implementing new ideas for many of them.

In short, things are looking up. 

With schools started in remote learning, and families now adjusting to new rhythms the people at places like His Heart Foundation and MarriageTeam are hard at work online and in person when possible. 

“With His Heart and having the mental health side as well as the mental success side, you’re dealing with social emotional learning,” said Dale Baugh, who runs MentorSuccess with His Heart Foundation. “One of the things that is very difficult for young people to go through right now is they are adjusting not only to their own environment at home, but they’re adjusting to not being around their friends on a regular basis.”

MentorSuccess mentor Linda is seen here with Mckenzie, a student at Cornerstone Christian Academy, back during in-person mentoring. Photo courtesy of His Heart Foundation
MentorSuccess mentor Linda is seen here with Mckenzie, a student at Cornerstone Christian Academy, back during in-person mentoring. Photo courtesy of His Heart Foundation

The MentorSuccess program pairs mentors with students for one hour a week of mentorship. The flagship program was launched in partnership with Cornerstone Christian Academy, and is also expanding into more public schools in Clark County, like Harney Elementary School in Vancouver.

With a recent adjustment in specifically faith-based counseling rules, five people of the same family can now meet in person with a counselor at their facility. In the cases of MarriageTeam, which coaches couples, and His Heart Foundation, which mentors and counsels, the majority of interactions are still online for safety and ease of use. 

MarriageTeam, an organization that trains and equips coach couples to then work with couples on the brink of divorce, has thankfully weathered the COVID storm with relative ease, said founder Alan Ray. 

Alan Ray and his wife Autumn (not pictured) are the founders of MarriageTeam. Photo by Jacob Granneman
Alan Ray and his wife Autumn (not pictured) are the founders of MarriageTeam. Photo by Jacob Granneman

“I’d say 10 to 20 percent of our coaching was done remotely via video conferencing. So all we did was we pivoted to 100 percent of that for COVID,” Ray said. “We have couples that can provide the coaching so the services are definitely available right now. The investment in the time that you spend one hour a week or a couple hours a week working on your marriage is going to have lifelong impact.” 

MarriageTeam anticipated a rise in the number of couples seeking help during the last six months of the pandemic, but in actuality they have seen a 30 percent drop in new requests. Ray said he believes this to be a result of added stresses, and couples reluctance to add one more thing. 

In spite of the drop, the organization is reaching what feels like more people outside their immediate distance of influence, Ray said. The virtual, online method has allowed, and perhaps encouraged, couples in places like Texas to join the program.

“There’s been enough disruption, that it’s caused people to be stuck,” Ray said. “My sense is that there are a few more people calling from out of the region then there might have been before, simply because they’re finding us on the internet, and they’re looking for resources.”

MentorSuccess is seeing a greater need to work with students on building strong social, emotional and mental health habits to cope with their ever changing life schedules. Using in-person when possible, but more predominantly virtual, via something like Zoom, mentors are spending at least an hour a week with students. 

Dr. Jerry Wilbur and Baugh worked together to found the program using their collective experience studying mentoring. They have also written several peer reviewed papers that have been presented at the University of New Mexico.

It is research like theirs that has motivated the project, in addition to anecdotal success stories. In one case, a principal who implemented the program at their school, saw the number of students consistently in their office drop from 25 to one. In a study done by The Gates Foundation, also found that students who were mentored, had fewer issues in adulthood than those who were not. 

MentorSuccess mentor Craig is seen here with Connor, a student at Cornerstone Christian Academy, back during in-person mentoring. Photo courtesy of His Heart Foundation
MentorSuccess mentor Craig is seen here with Connor, a student at Cornerstone Christian Academy, back during in-person mentoring. Photo courtesy of His Heart Foundation

“You’re not just teaching them for the now, you’re actually equipping them with skills, and we have 17 leadership success skills which we build around,” Baugh said. “Respect, self control, teamwork; and we try to build all of those things around so that you’re developing the whole person, not just right now, but equipping them to go through life as well. What makes it difficult now is you can’t always do all of that in person.”

While anyone can become a mentor, Baugh explained that they are still implementing a rigorous background check and vetting process of all mentor volunteers before allowing them to work with a student; even online. 

MentorSuccess with His Heart Foundation has mentored close to 300 students, and is always looking for more mentors, Baugh said. This fall, they are staggering the start times of their mentorship programs, so as to work with teachers and mentors allowing them to have time to get settled into a peculiar school year.

For more information on MarriageTeam, His Heart Foundation, MentorSuccess, and many more organizations reaching out to the Clark County community and beyond, check out their common page here. Scroll to the bottom to see a list of organizations.  

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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