LINKS Lunch Buddy Program

What is LINKS mentoring?

The LINKS Lunch Buddy program provides one-on-one mentoring for youth in the Lake Washington School District. Volunteers are adults from all sorts of backgrounds, educational levels, and stages of life who can spare an hour each week to spend with a child. Activities vary, but one thing remains constant: the adult is there to support a child’s social-emotional development.

“From the get-go, my Lunch Buddy and I would do crafts together,” recalls LINKS Lunch Buddy mentor Laura Spencer. “She loves to do crafts so that was always what we do. But we’d sit there quietly and do crafts and we wouldn’t talk much. And then after a couple weeks she started really opening up and sharing and just talking to me and it was just amazing how much she would share with me.”

Training and ongoing support are provided to the mentors to ensure that they interact with the mentee in a way that improves students’ confidence and helps them acquire the skills needed for lifelong success, in school and beyond.

Please contact Victoria Goetze-Nelson, District LINKS Coordinator, with any questions.

Thank you for the following companies for their generous in-kind contributions to the program this year: Fred Meyer, QFC, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Sodexo.


What can you do?


Volunteers spend 45 minutes per week in the schools as mentors. LINKS Lunch Buddy mentors help students feel engaged, supported and challenged.

If you step forward, you’ll receive training and support to ensure your success. What will you get back? You’ll get the joy of spending time with a child, and you’ll know that you’re making a real difference in the life of someone who needs you.


Great mentoring takes time and money. Once recruited, our mentors receive rigorous training and ongoing support. Once pairs are matched, they are monitored and measured for progress in concrete ways to make sure the LINKS Lunch Buddy Program is providing the benefits that we know mentoring can bring.

Plenty of people aren’t able to volunteer 45 minutes a week as a Lunch Buddy mentor. But if you can’t be there, support someone who can.

Benefits of being a LINKS Lunch Buddy mentor

Many mentors say that the rewards they gain from their mentoring relationship are as substantial as those for their mentees. Learn more about the benefits of being a mentor.

Empowering Youth Through Mentorship

The story of Marcus Grinde, an award-winning mentor in the Lake Washington School District’s LINKS Lunch Buddy Program, demonstrates the importance of mentorship programs in empowering and positively impacting the lives of young individuals.

Every year, it’s amazing the amount of positive energy that comes back towards me from the Buddy without asking for it.

Lunch Buddy mentor Ken Goodwin

When you go in, they just light up, and you know that in that moment you’re making a difference with that kid individually.

Lunch Buddy mentor Emily Roe

It brings tears to my eyes now just thinking about how excited she is to see me.

Lunch Buddy mentor Laura Spencer

If you just like talking to kids, seriously talking to kids, I think it’s a great program.

Lunch Buddy mentor Rich Whitehill

Overlake Medical Center & Clinics