Like some of you, I have benefitted from mentorship throughout my life. I didn’t know it was mentorship back then but upon reflection, I see that whether it came from a softball coach, a troop leader, an adult neighbor, a boss, a colleague, or an expert in my career field, I have definitely been mentored. Mentoring relationships, whether formal or informal, can provide us with special individuals you can trust, who see and believe in you. Those who are up ahead to help you chart a path forward and develop new skills, a deeper understanding, a greater resilience. In my case, one of my dear mentors also became a long-standing friend.
When you’ve received the gift of mentorship, deciding to pay that gift forward just feels right. At least it did for me. I became C.’s mentor when she was in third grade. Having recently moved to the area and a new school following her parents’ divorce, she was cautious but curious to see how this relationship would go. Her parents were supportive and hoped that having a mentor would help her build confidence and feel more connected. We started meeting weekly at school for about 45 minutes, playing games, doing simple sewing projects, chatting about our families, our likes and dislikes. By the time the school year ended, she surprised me by deciding that she would be comfortable transitioning to a community-based mentorship so we could see each other over the summer.
Since then, C. has become part of our family, spending time at our home, playing games, baking, working on puzzles, engaging me and my husband in rounds of “fun facts”. Every so often we do something special like wander around Montpelier, take a big hike, go swimming, fly kites. Mostly we just like to hang out and talk. This once cautious child shares just about everything that’s on her mind. Turns out that we enjoy a lot of the same things. We love word puzzles, Scrabble, checkers, and we’re learning to play chess together. We bake, we sew. We discuss government and world events, building on what she’s learning in school. She’s interested in my husband’s rock collection and wood shop.
She’s teaching me things, too. I’m reading a graphic novel series that she recommended. I’m learning about online games and have become curious about virtual worlds. I’m thinking about the role cell phones and digital devices play in the lives of young people. I’m remembering how challenging growing up can be and seeing how the world is a harder place to grow up in now.
Another benefit of my relationship with C. is that it keeps me grounded in mentorship as I do the work of coordinating the Cabot Mentoring program. I get to “walk the walk” as I help other mentors navigate the complexities of relationships with mentees.
January is National Mentoring Month and there’s no better time to ask you to consider becoming a mentor to a young person in our community. Cabot Mentoring has been around a long time but we always need mentors. We will take you through a background check, provide training, match you with a mentee, and support you as you go. You can opt to meet at school or in the community. No matter your background, if you work with your hands, think on your feet, or lead with your heart, kids need what you can offer. If you have the inclination to mentor and about an hour a week, you’ll be surprised at how much you get back.
To apply or find out more, contact me at email@example.com, check our website at cabotmentoring.org or like our FB page https://www.facebook.com/cabotmentoring.
Karen Hatcher, Program Coordinator for Cabot Mentoring