Skip to content

It Takes a Village


At Four Oaks, we believe in building broad-based opportunities for youth and families to succeed. To accomplish this goal and to carry out our mission – “to assure children become successful adults” – we rely on community volunteers who share their time and talent making a difference at Four Oaks.

It’s because of volunteers like Dr. Mary Kemen that we are able to accomplish this goal. Kemen, an anesthesiologist with St. Luke’s Hospital, has volunteered with Four Oaks for five years as a mentor to youth with the TotalChild® Workforce program. In her role as a mentor, Kemen has gone on job shadows with youth and met with them one-on-one to discuss their educational and employment goals.

“I think the statement, ‘It takes a village’ is really one that we should give more credence to. I think we all kind of laugh at it but we really shouldn’t,” Kemen said, “because it is true, that an entire community should help raise every child.”

Kemen said that’s what she sees herself doing as a mentor.

“I think that so much of what this mentoring group does is take people at that very delicate stage of life in which they have to begin to develop independence and help them find a path,” Kemen said. “They just need people to take their hand and help them along the way. It’s been very worthwhile doing this.”

Kemen said she hopes that others in the community will consider mentoring youth.

“I really hope that this program will thrive. And I hope they continue to get a variety of people from the community, especially those who have unusual stories or very unique entries into a profession or into the working world,” Kemen said. “I think hearing the stories of other adults has a really big impact on these young people. I highly encourage others to join the mentoring group.”

Recent News

Four Oaks Family Connections focuses attention on foster teens for Adoption Month

by Barry Green Monday, November 14th 2022 Cedar Rapids — Monday afternoon, the Four Oaks Family Connections staff announced they will be focusing their attention on the unique needs teens in foster care for Adoption
Read More

Four Oaks’ Liz Estilow Speaks About Foster Care and Her Organization, My G.E.A.R.

Kate Howes, Herald Correspondent Nov 14, 2022 CLINTON – Liz Estilow has seen the terror in a 3-year-old’s eyes when they are taken from the only home they’ve ever known
Read More

Nine adoptions took place at the Juvenile Justice Center in Cedar Rapids

by Nada Shamah Thursday, November 17th 2022 It was an emotional day at the Juvenile Justice Center in Cedar Rapids. Nine children were adopted Thursday afternoon. For Michelle and Tom Wood
Read More