GenNext and its Future
The rain certainly did not keep Generation Next participants, parents and supporters away from celebrating at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of their new center on November 27, 2010 in Glendale, California.
In 1998, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) created and launched the Generation Next Mentorship Program to provide positive role models, support and guidance to youth in Southern California. Alina Cummings spearheaded the program with a small committee. Their first year, they mentored 11 students and each year since, the number of students grows. AGBU Generation Next has helped students stay on the right path – a path that can lead them to college and a good future. The program is modeled after the Fulfilment Fund and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Each student that goes through the Generation Next program is paired with a mentor – someone who is either a full-time university student or someone who holds a full-time job. They organize group activities like visiting museums, hiking, bowling, etc. In addition, mentors individually take their mentees out to dinner, shopping and picnics.
Armen Grigorian a Generation Next graduate was living on the streets and constantly in trouble prior to joining the program. His mentors and the program in general encouraged him and helped him get back on the road to a better life. The program took their participants on a tour of UCLA. Armen had not seen that side of life before and after that visit, he wanted to go to college and make a better life for himself and his family. He will soon receive his teaching credentials. He said, “If it wasn’t for the Generation Next program, I’d either be in jail or overseas in the military.”
The center which is located at 1230 E. Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205 is open from Monday-Friday 10am to 6pm, but Program Coordinator, Saro Ayvazian said, “Though we technically close at six, we will stay open as long as we need to.” The center, previously located in Pasadena, Calif. moved to Glendale just steps away from Glendale High School, in order to be closer to Armenian students. 80 percent of Generation Next students are from Glendale and everyday, there are new students walking into the center. “Our participants introduce their friends to our new center and sometimes, some students just come by to see what’s going on” said Ayvazian. The center is not only for the Generation Next Mentorship program, but it is a safe place for students to come, do homework and receive tutoring in all subjects.
Saro mentors 16-year-old Mike Karapetyan, a student at Hoover High School. Mike has been part of the program for three years now said smiling, “I never want to leave the program.”
Generation Next is always looking for qualified mentors and those who want to volunteer at the center. To learn more about the program, visit their website.