Mission to Mentor
Philanthropist of the Year Linda Youngentob helps students in high school and college find a path to success
Youngentob considers herself a mentor “for life” and has kept in touch with many of her students—she has the phone numbers of about 40 listed on her cellphone, including that of 19-year-old Oswaldo Baires Mendez, who now attends the University of Rochester in upstate New York.
Mendez, a first-generation college student from Gaithersburg, contacted Youngentob when he realized that he needed to improve his study skills to handle college classes. Youngentob, who had kept in touch after mentoring him when he was in high school, provided tips on using note cards and a planner. “She is always there. She’s been a big support for my dreams,” he says.
In addition to her mentoring work, Youngentob has hosted small fundraisers at her home—known as “friendraisers”—to generate support for CollegeTracks; Identity, a Gaithersburg-based organization serving the county’s Latino youths; and Compass, a Washington, D.C.-based organization where she volunteered for 13 years, providing business expertise to nonprofits. Youngentob joined Identity’s board last year, and the success of a friendraiser she held, where clients can tell their stories in a more intimate setting, led the organization to move away from holding its annual gala in favor of a smaller fundraising model, according to Identity Executive Director Diego Uriburu.
The Youngentobs have made financial contributions through their donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation and have given directly to a range of local, national and international organizations.
Youngentob has also contributed to Future Link, a Montgomery County organization that helps disadvantaged youths with career exploration. For several years, she taught a self-advocacy seminar for students to help them develop goals, prepare a résumé and pitch themselves to employers. “Linda was born to make a difference,” Future Link Executive Director Mindi Jacobson says. “She has a gift to really understand young people.”
Helping improve the lives of students through mentoring and providing financial support to organizations has brought Youngentob such joy that she wants to spread the word that helping others not only feels good, but is an issue of justice and economic development. “It’s so hard to maneuver in this world and feel you are making a difference, but it’s possible,” she says. “Everybody has a heart. Everybody has some love to give to somebody.”
Caralee Adams is a freelance writer in Bethesda.