First Steps early intervention program


A Program of the Healthy Family Foundation
A Division of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation

Our Mission: Promoting successful futures through healthy choices and continued education.

The Ophelia Project of Coachella Valley is a program of the Healthy Family Foundation that enriches bicultural collateral through: ‘etiquette for all situations’; art awareness as a vehicle to expand learning skills; and prevention of adolescent and teen obesity. The Ophelia Project is structured as a group mentoring program facilitated by local, successful, professional women who are dedicated to helping adolescent girls in the Coachella Valley.  By participating in planned activities with these volunteer mentor “role models”, teens are assisted with setting goals for their future and are guided away from at-risk behaviors and environments.  Our objective is to encourage young girls to develop hope for their future and to acquire the skills necessary to make their dreams a reality.

Our Name

The Ophelia Project’s philosophy and name is derived from the book written by Mary Pipher, Ph.D., entitled Reviving Ophelia:  Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. The Ophelia Project organization is a national model out of Erie, Pennsylvania. Healthy Family Foundation in Coachella Valley has the distinction of becoming the first official Ophelia Project Affiliate in 1997. Now, with just under a dozen affiliates throughout the United States, The Ophelia Project of Coachella Valley is unique in program customization and mentor training driven by the specifics of the area populations.

Our Program

Consistent with the national model, our program content addresses issues young women face and provides educational and skill-building opportunities aimed at increasing self-esteem, enhancing decision-making and coping skills, dealing with relational aggression, making healthier choices,  identifying career/educational opportunities and building community awareness.  Our program is run by a professional, paid, staff member employed by Healthy Family Foundation, who directs the Ophelia Project, oversees the team of volunteer mentors, and assures the specific goals designed to help teenage girls. These goals include:

  • Have a positive self-image and self-esteem
  • Take personal responsibility for choices
  • Understand self and have good interpersonal relationships
  • Recognize college/career options and expand their horizons

Our Mentors

Our volunteers are adult females who come from all walks of life and have one thing in common:  They are excellent role models for young girls.  Mentors possess good listening skills; are responsible, objective and non-judgmental; demonstrate good leadership; are trustworthy and supportive; and exhibit positive attitudes.  Our mentors strongly believe in the philosophies of the Ophelia Project and generously commit appreciable time and effort to mentoring activities as well as mentoring training requirements. All staff and volunteers associated with The Ophelia Project must successfully complete the required trainings before working with the girls of the Ophelia Project.


Most activity occurs during the school year (September – early June).  This schedule is attractive to part-time residents who can participate actively during most of the school year.  Most group mentoring activities are held on weekday afternoons.  Mentors are expected to participate in these events, assist with administrative needs as requested and attend a monthly meeting.  During the school year, each mentor is expected to spend approximately 8-12 hours/month with the Ophelia program.  Summers are spent preparing for the next school year with available mentors; time demand then is minimal.

How Do I Apply to Become a Mentor?

The Ophelia Project of Coachella Valley needs women who have attributes and backgrounds beneficial to our program to enhance its value for young women.  If you are interested in joining and are able to commit the time and effort required, call our office at 760-776-1600 x 109, for more information.  The screening process will include completing an application with references, an interview, orientation and fingerprinting.  The one time processing fee of $35 is paid by each mentor who joins the Ophelia Project. Once the process has been successfully completed, mentors attend the required trainings which include Mandated Reporter, Confidentiality, and trainings specific to current programming.