January is National Mentoring Month
Try a resolution you can keep
By Kathy Witkowicki
Who mentored you? That is a question to ask yourself as you think back on your own childhood. Who were the people that influenced you and helped to mold you into the person you are today?
The good news is that you don’t have to pay them back. You could, however, pay them forward. And the best way to do that is to become a mentor yourself, and get matched with a young person who needs the advice, counsel, guidance and friendship of a caring adult role model in their life.
Mentoring is certainly not a new concept. Big Brothers/Big Sisters Programs have been around for years. But over time, school-based and community-based mentoring are merging, and the end result is a more comprehensive program that offers wrap-around services for both mentors and mentees. That’s one area where the Mentoring Alliance shines.
We found that it is not enough to simply be a match-maker when it comes to pairing an adult with a child. Offering access to proper training, on-going education, motivational speakers, individual counseling and support groups are essential elements of a quality program. We have these services readily available for all of our program participants in order to keep matches thriving. That’s because, when done properly, mentoring can have a profound, positive effect on both the mentor and the mentee.
In addition to match support, it is important to keep mentoring fun. That’s why we provide planned outings, field trips, enrichment activities and social events that are made available at no cost. Many strong bonds of friendship are formed when mentors and mentees are off-campus, sharing new and interesting experiences together.
So if you have an hour a week, and if mentoring sounds like something you would enjoy, there is no time like the present to get involved. There are 130 kids on a waiting list who ask us every day if we have found a mentor for them yet. And if you are still unsure and have questions, we have answers.
We will be hosting a Mentor Recruitment Reception on Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at MacArthur Place (29 E. MacArthur St.). There is complimentary food and beverages, as well as no-obligation information. It’s a new year – make mentoring the New Year’s Resolution you keep.
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Kathy Witkowicki is Executive Director of the Stand by Me, Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.