Connection in a time of Social Distancing

David Shapiro, President & CEO at MENTOR
March 12th, 2020
Posted In: Uncategorized

As a movement committed to relationships and proximity, we are thinking deeply about what the COVID-19 pandemic means for youth mentoring relationships and ensuring they are sustained in ways that are intentional and safe. While we continue to monitor information from health experts, we also want to use our platform to be responsive and to share tips from a relationship lens that you as programs, mentors, and caring adults can bear in mind as you show up – however that looks – for the young people in your lives and the wide range of program models and considerations that exist in this diverse and dynamic field. We know there is an abundance of information out there so below we have provided a few resources that we hope are helpful.

As our physical routines are broken and movements are restricted, it can lead to us becoming trapped in an information overload and disconnected from relationships that provide so much we need in times like these. It is important to balance being informed with recognizing and acting on our need to reach outward to the people in our communities so we are there for each other.

In confusing times, when we are enduring something for the first time, being there for each other (even if not in physical proximity), listening to individual and unique concerns, owning what we do and don’t know, and showing up in whatever way makes sense is as powerful as ever. You know that and make that a reality every day a million times over in America.

The relationships you have created especially pay dividends in times like these when we need folks to lean on. We just want to make sure we’re here for you and that we are elevating concerns and solutions, advocating, and doing all we can to serve those who strengthen our fabric every day.

Most of all, we want to hear from you about the real challenges you and your program are facing in addressing COVID-19. Are there best practices you have adopted that we can share? Is there information you need help finding on any issues emerging as a result of this global health crisis? You can reach us via email and on social media. We’re here for you.





David Shapiro

President & CEO


Mentoring Resources & Tips

Be mindful. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, it may trigger trauma for young people impacted by the virus or by the news surrounding the pandemic. Let your mentee know that you see them and are there for them.

Be intentional about preserving continuity in the relationship.

  • Acknowledge what is going on and engage in a dialogue about the pandemic.
  • Understand and honor your emotions and the emotions of your mentee, including the range of reactions that may be expressed.
  • Commit to self-care. Know that it is okay to take a break from the news and discussions about the virus as needed to manage anxiety or other responses to the situation. 

Be in it together. Let your mentee know that you are in this together and are here to help. 

  • Follow the latest on COVID-19 on the CDC’s website
  • Follow the guidelines of your mentoring program, institution, or the guardians of your mentee around how to connect and communicate virtually with your mentee if in-person connections are suspended. Decide on clear boundaries and agreements about how you will connect with your mentee when meeting in-person and continue to follow the latest health guidelines and recommendations about where and how to gather.

Be communicative. Healthy and supportive relationships are crucial during this time.

  • If your mentoring program remains open and you feel comfortable, continue to show up for them in person – young people need our support now more than ever!
  • If in-person meetings must pause, follow the appropriate path:
    • If you are permitted/able to communicate virtually with your mentee
      • Let your mentee know you need to temporarily pause seeing them in person but are still there for them virtually. Create a plan with your mentee about how you will stay in touch while continuing to follow the appropriate guidelines.
    • If you are not permitted/able to communicate virtually:
      • Work with the program to figure out a way to pass along information to let your mentee know that you care, value the relationship, and will need to temporarily pause in-person meetings. Health and safety are the primary focuses at this time.

Additional Resources:


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