National Mentoring Month was inaugurated in 2002 and is spearheaded by the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. This National Mentoring Month, youth voices share research-backed statistics about how having a mentor can help them realize their potential and help them thrive in school, at work, and in life.
Gerson Martinez, Executive Director for our local mentoring agency, Talbot Mentors, answered a few questions for Healthy Talbot about the program to highlight the month:
1) What’s the role of a mentor look like? Simply put, a mentor is a friend. A mentor is a consistent, positive presence in the life of a mentee. No other restrictions exist. At the most basic level, the most important thing a mentor does is show up when you say you will, every time. Just like a great friend would. The relationship that develops becomes a function of the trust that is established over time through consistency.
2) What are the benefits of a mentoring program – for both the mentee and the mentor. Why is it important? A mentoring program is of paramount importance, in my view, because it provides young people with consistency when they don’t have it. It provides them with a friend, a cheerleader, someone who believes in them and looks after them. Often these things change the trajectory of a mentee’s future as they begin to see the potential in them that perhaps no one else helped them to see. From the mentor perspective, mentoring a child allows you an opportunity to share your experience, wisdom, and skills with someone who desperately needs it. On a macro level, mentoring enriches the fabric of our community by improving the lives of the most vulnerable youth, helping them to become active, contributing members of our community as they enter adulthood.
3) What’s the process for becoming a mentor? Talbot Mentors go through an application and a vetting process led by our staff. Additionally, each potential mentor attends an information session to understand exactly what we ask of them. Potential mentors then must pass a background check in order to be cleared for a match. Lastly, our staff works together to match each new mentor with the best suited mentee based on age, gender, and interests of both parties.
4) What’s the process for those seeking a mentor? What are the restrictions – if any?Talbot Mentors accepts referrals only from Talbot County Public Schools and the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center. If anyone is interested in referring a mentee, they should contact the student’s guidance counselor, who can submit a referral to Talbot Mentors. These are the only two sources of referrals we currently accept.
A highlight of Mentoring Month is Thank Your Mentor Day, this year on January 31, 2019, in which Americans thank and honor their mentors. People are encouraged to contact their mentors directly to express appreciation, become a mentor in their own community, make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program, or post a tribute on www.WhoMentoredYou.org.