The MENTOR Network

Stories of our Mentors

Marco Thrives with Mentors’ Guidance

The MENTOR Network's medically complex foster care program

From the moment he was born, Marco was fighting for his life. Exposed to drugs before birth, Marco was born with multiple complex medical conditions. But he was a fighter. And thanks to his foster parents and a dedicated treatment team from Massachusetts MENTOR’s Therapeutic Foster Care program, Marco had a team in his corner fighting for him.

All-Star Mentors

Marco’s foster parents, also known as Mentors, Orietta and Jackie, are a mother-daughter team. Orietta has been caring for vulnerable children as a foster parent for many years and her daughter Jackie is a nursing student who lives in the family home.

“They’re all-stars,” said Paul Cataldo, Executive Director of Massachusetts MENTOR, a partner of The MENTOR Network. “Our staff knew they could count on Orietta and Jackie to provide a loving and supportive home for Marco.”

Massachusetts MENTOR staff worked with Orietta and Jackie to ensure they had the specialized skills needed to support Marco, including how to administer his medication and how to recognize signs of potentially threatening illnesses—a lesson that ultimately helped save his life.

A Team Approach Makes all the Difference

Four days after Marco left the hospital, Orietta and Jackie noticed he was fussier than usual. Although they had welcomed Marco into their home only a few days before, Orietta and Jackie were already in-tune with his complex medical needs and related behaviors. They brought him to the hospital and called Massachusetts MENTOR’s 24/7 emergency number, available to all of the organization’s foster parents should they need advice or staff assistance. Immediately the Massachusetts MENTOR team jumped into action working with hospital staff and social workers to ensure Marco received the care he needed.

Marco’s condition fluctuated. He was transferred from critical care to less intensive levels and back to critical care as he struggled over the next several days. But Marco was never alone in his fight. Orietta and Jackie were constantly by his side and Massachusetts MENTOR staff were there to support them.

“It’s important for us to be there for the children we serve,” said Paul, “and it’s important for our Mentors to know that we’re here for them too. We’re a team.”

Marco was able to go home with Orietta and Jackie after a few weeks in the hospital. And thanks to the nurturing care he continues to receive at home today, he is thriving.

“They’re all-stars. Our staff knew they could count on Orietta and Jackie to provide a loving and supportive home for Marco.”
Paul Cataldo, Executive Director of Massachusetts MENTOR