During the 2017 National Mentoring Summit mentoring advocates will participate in Capitol Hill Day to bring Members of Congress and their staff face to face with the mentoring community to talk about the importance of quality mentoring and how mentoring can be used to help address a number of our nation’s most pressing issues concerning youth. You can sign up for Capitol Hill Day when you register for the 2017 National Mentoring Summit and if you can’t attend you can participate in Virtual Capitol Hill Day by signing up!
During the 2016 National Mentoring Summit, Ryan Kneeland from the YMCA’s Reach & Rise Mentoring Program at the Alfond Youth Center in Maine traveled to Washington, DC to participate in Capitol Hill Day. He shares some of his reflections with us here!
Q: What expectations did you have for Capitol Hill Day before you arrived in Washington, DC?
A: I had ventured to Capitol Hill previously while working at another organization with a large team. My framework for imagining DC at the time was a freshly-binged season of House of Cards and being from a rural state I was expecting it to be a challenge to make meaningful connections in Washington. With my first experience I was able to witness the genuine attention and appreciation our congress-members display for their constituents, and was excited to bring that knowledge to Capitol Hill again to talk about mentoring and the kind of impact the Reach & Rise program is having on Central Maine’s youth. I’m glad I made the decision to attend!
Q: What kind of training did you receive from MENTOR for Capitol Hill Day?
A: I am so thankful for the training and preparation I received from the MENTOR team during our training session. We were prepped on what to expect and armed with wonderful advice for executing our mission. Talking points were clearly marked and all questions were readily answered. We left our preparation meetings with confidence and professional-looking materials on-hand, which led into a successful day on the Hill.
Q: Can you walk us through what Capitol Hill Day was like?
A: From the moment we stepped into our Senator’s office, it felt like I was back in Maine. Everybody was welcoming, from his attentive staff to the Senator himself. Our Senator hosts a weekly “Coffee with Constituents” hour! We also had wonderful meetings with the rest of our Congressional delegation. Our Representatives are often busy folks, try not to feel discouraged if you are meeting with their staff – they are an important piece of the puzzle.
Q: What advice do you have for mentoring advocates who will be attending Hill Day for the first time this Summit?
A: Create something special and specific about your mentors, mentees, and the amazing things they do. Share photographs and stories! Thank your Member of Congress on social media for their time. They’ll love that memorable, poignant touch and revel in seeing what their support of mentoring legislation and funding generates as a tangible achievement. I would also say connect with your Congressional delegation early and often! We stayed in touch with our Representatives’ staff and through that relationship Representative Chellie Pingree (pictured above) visited our mentoring program to learn more about it firsthand!
You can also be a mentoring advocate during the 2017 National Mentoring Summit when you sign up to participate in Capitol Hill Day! If you have any questions about Capitol Hill Day please contact Abbie Evans at Aevans@mentoring.org.