With the generous support of AT&T, State Street Corporation, and an anonymous donor, MENTOR launched the 2017 Summit Fellowship Program to provide a select number of scholarships to dedicated leaders from mentoring programs operating with a budget of $150,000 or less. In the Summit Fellows Spotlight series, the 2017 Fellows reflect on their experiences at the Summit and the lessons they’ve brought back to their local communities and programs.
Q: What is your program’s mission and how are you providing opportunities for youth through mentoring?
A: JBU Mentoring Program’s mission is to assist youth in becoming the best version of themselves through developing their interpersonal skills and building self-confidence, thus becoming positive citizens of society. By exercising JBU principles and acquiring valuable skills, mentees will become more efficient in everyday activities and interactions with others, establish and pursue personal goals, and learn strategies for living a healthy lifestyle.
Q: What did you hope to get out of your Summit experience?
A: Honestly, I went into the Summit just hoping to network with other professionals in the field of mentoring. Boy, was I in for a shock of a lifetime. Not only was I able to network with extraordinary individuals, but the amount of information, along with experts who were generous enough to share their wealth of knowledge, was amazing. One of the toughest barriers JBU Mentors faced was recruiting quality mentors for a rural area. Thanks to Frank Cox at Michigan 4-H organization, I was given the exact tools and information I needed to secure the best mentors in my area.
Q: What was your favorite part of the Summit?
A: Wow, where do I begin? Capitol Hill Day was a first for me and definitely not my last — being able to walk those grounds was amazing. At the Philanthropic Partnerships Track fireside chat, I felt like roasting marshmallows due to the ambiance of the room! Listening to the experts on the panel like Perry Yateman and Jean Rhodes was an eye opening experience and I learned a lot from other participants like Lmani Viney as well. Last but not least, building relationships and networking at the Summit were very important to me. I can honestly say I left the Summit knowing I made so many friends in the field of mentoring.
Q: What learnings from the Summit have you brought back to your organization?
A: After learning more effective strategies and practices at the Summit, I’ve been very instrumental in implementing them within the organization since my return. It has enabled us as an organization to be more efficient by using simpler research-based tactics.
Q: Why do you feel it is important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?
A: As the project director/mentor of JBU, there are times I feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on in this world with our youth. Having support from fellow practitioners with similar or greater knowledge in the field of mentoring makes the journey a little easier. Since the Summit, I’ve been networking with professionals online for advice or their thoughts on certain topics, like helping youth deal with trauma and violence.
Q: Can you share a mentoring story with us?
A: Since returning home from the Summit, I’ve begun working with a young man named Xavier. When I first met Xavier, his dreadlocks were covering his face, he would never make eye contact and you could sense his low self-esteem. I explained to Xavier that I was going to challenge him mentally, physically, educationally, emotionally and socially each day until he began to see a change in himself. Without hesitation Xavier replied with “I accept the challenge, let’s go!” For weeks now, Xavier has been reaching out to me daily for life skills advice or fashion tips. Our motto is: “In order to DEFINE yourself, you must CHALLENGE yourself!” Xavier is already seeing the fruits of his hard work – just last week he was approached by a modelling agency and he’s excited about pursuing his new career.
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