Reaching out

Lee Laney

Being a mentor is satisfying for people like Lee Laney. He has lived in Chico since 1978 and has worked in all kinds of human-services jobs, including a nonprofit organization serving people with developmental disabilities. His past experiences and connections working in the field have contributed to where he is today. Recently, Laney was hired as the program manager for California Mentor’s office in Chico, which opened a month ago. The organization helps place individuals with developmental disabilities in homes where they can be comfortable and get the help they need. Although the agency started with “bare walls,” Laney is excited to take part and use his experiences to make the organization successful. For more information on how you can become involved in California Mentor, contact Family Home Agency at 892-9200 or visit the national site at

What is California Mentor?

We recruit, screen and train individuals or families in the community that have a person with developmental disabilities come live with them as a community member.

What does it take to become a mentor?

They need to have an extra room. They need to go through our training. They have to go through a criminal background check. They have to provide us with references, and they have to have an interest in, I guess it’s what I call “heart,” for people with disabilities because they are giving their own privacy, and their own home. They do get a monthly stipend. They are not our employees, but we pay them on a contract basis. So they can earn in the range of $1,000 to $2,000 per month, and it’s tax free because it’s considered a reimbursement, not a wage.

What is the goal?

The goal is to provide quality homes for people with developmental disabilities that provide a caring relationship for them, contacts and friendships in the community. Where they’re often isolated and separated from the community, this is a step toward community integration.

What do you like about this job?

I’ve always worked in human services, social services. I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. This one is especially satisfying because it’s new, it’s innovative, it provides a better quality of life for people we are able to place. It’s exciting for me to be creating something new that’s a really good alternative. It adds to the services that are here. It improves the quality of life for the people we serve.