WHEN stay-home dad Tony Park signed up to volunteer with the Helping Hand Project he never realised quite how rewarding it would be.
An Ascot Vale resident, Mr Park heard about the Helping Hand Project after reading about it in a local paper.
The community-based volunteer organisation is aimed at providing young refugees with supportive mentors.
With support from his family, Mr Park signed up with Helping Hand and soon found himself matched with teenager John, also from Ascot Vale.
Originally from Sudan, John had also spent some time in Uganda before he fled to Australia with his mother and large family.
In Africa, he struggled to get food and a basic education and said school fees in Sudan were extremely high.
In Australia, John was "a little lost" according to his mentor, and not sure what to do with his time.
Mr Park said he met up with John fortnightly to help him with whatever was going on in his life - a priority being to find John a soccer club.
Mr Park also helped John enrol in a Sports Education and Development Australia course to formalise his expertise in soccer training and coaching.
John has welcomed the support of his mentor.
"Tony is a good person. I can trust him," he said.
According to Mr Park, soccer takes up most of John's time.
"Spend just a short amount of time with John and you soon see where his passion lies.
"If he isn't kicking a football, he's watching it on television and he loves talking about it," he said.
The Helping Hand Project is seeking new mentors.
Phone 8060 3440 or visit helpinghandproject.org.au