Two Words That Touch Hearts and Change Lives

January 29, 2024


It was a note she wasn’t expecting and a sentiment that took her by surprise.

“Thank you!” wrote one 6th grader recently to COYFC in-school mentor Danielle Larison. She co-leads a group of six Gahanna East Middle School girls once a week with her friend, Cathy Spurlock.

“We had just been talking with the kids about gratitude and they were writing letters to people they appreciated … but we didn’t think we’d be on the receiving end,” explained Danielle, smiling. “That meant a lot.”

“The group is so fun and you appreciate our humor,” wrote the student. “I am so thankful for you, Miss Cathy and Miss Danielle!”

This response – “thank you!” – is as life-changing as the two words – “I will” – that Danielle, Cathy and other new mentors spoke when they first got involved. They’re not in it for the recognition; at times, it is a secret sacrifice of time, energy and emotion. But getting that thanks from students every now and again is a real boost.

Grateful to have an opportunity during the day to share character-building skills with students, Danielle and Cathy are among 30 adults currently involved with in-school mentoring groups established through COYFC. These mentors are now serving 196 youth at nine middle and high schools across Central Ohio!

Mentors are trained and provided a faith-neutral curriculum based on resources from the Better Business Bureau to guide their instructional time. Danielle, Cathy and others involved in the COYFC mentoring program trust that it is an intentional investment that transcends any classroom and transforms many futures, with even the potential for eternal outcomes. After-school invitations to other outings and youth programs offered by COYFC further engage interested students both relationally and spiritually.

“Having fun together, solving problems together, exposing youth to new ideas, and helping youth build identity” are all great ways mentors can offer meaningful support, according to a Jan. 2023 study featured on .

“Be encouraged by the impact you ARE having in the lives of young people,” COYFC Mentoring Coordinator Bryan Brookes tells mentors. “It is hard to see it in the immediate, but studies of the long term effects of mentoring on people show exponential positive benefits.”

In-school mentor Cathy Spurlock agrees. “Planting seeds takes time and growth is almost never seen for quite a while. We are planting seeds into the girls’ hearts and minds … [ultimately] I desire for them to come to know Christ as Savior and as Lord.” Cathy says she has been more intentional about praying for the girls she mentors. “That alone has been such a blessing to me personally and hopefully will draw them to Jesus.”

If you’re praying about a positive way to serve in the community in 2024, consider mentorship as a ministry and take your first step with COYFC! Whether with a friend or on your own … as an in-school mentor or during another time that works for you … in Columbus, Gahanna or Johnstown … you can make a difference! Contact or go to YFC’s volunteer page to get started today!

“Thank you!” for saying, “I will.” Moved by the Lord to mentor as a way of serving Him and loving others, you’ll be sure one day to hear the two words from Him that matter most.

“Well done.”