I had a potential mentor tell me the other day that she wasn’t sure what she could offer to a Fellow. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for the past ten years and was concerned that her step back from the [paying] workforce should be a knock against her. She said, gesturing at her Zoom image, “I wear sweatshirts all day!”. I guess she was confused because at the time, I was wearing a sweater . . . with a defined collar. But let’s be clear about how Zoom meetings work:
And sure, she wasn’t really talking about what she wears all day. She was talking about the presumed superiority of those with paychecks and the assumption that you can only help guide a young adult if you’re one of them. However the truth is, that’s simply not true.
Our mentors are a wide variety of people from retirees, to active professionals to - yes - stay-at home-moms (we would love some stay-at-home dads, too!). Their resumes do not make them a mentor, and neither does yours. Who you are makes you a mentor. How do you listen and respond? How much are you willing to not just teach but learn? How much do you and will you continue to care?
This potential mentor will be an amazing mentor once matched, because her heart is in it. She is passionate about helping young people exiting foster care, she is eager to know as much as she can about the system and the people within it, as well as the individual she connects with. We cannot wait to match her.
If you’re uncertain what you could bring to a mentor-fellow relationship, contact us. We would love to help you find out.
Yesterday was International Mentoring Day. Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Both days are about service and the impact it not only has on individuals but on communities as a whole. Today, we encourage you to serve others in any way that you can - as a mentor, at a food pantry, with/for your neighbors, via an online contribution - the opportunities are endless.
Today is I Am a Mentor Day. It is a day within National Mentoring Month where volunteers are encouraged to reflect on the work they have done and the impact they have had on their mentees. At the R. J. Leonard Foundation we have amazing mentors. Each of them has signed up to support and guide their Fellow through the challenges of furthering education and career plans, as well as the obstacles in day to day life.
However, our formal mentors are often not and should not be the only mentors in our Fellows’ lives. Informal mentoring happens every day in a variety of ways. It may be a board member at RJLF, for example, taking the time to discuss their career path and industry, but it is more likely to be a community member - a teacher, social worker, neighbor - who has an often unseen yet invaluable effect on a young person. Informal mentoring happens simply when an adult becomes a trusted adult by being present, listening and helping to guide.
If you take a moment to reflect, you may find that within your own life you have had a number of informal mentors through the years. You may also discover that you, too, have acted as someone’s mentor. If that is the case, today on I Am a Mentor Day, be proud of the positive role you have played - formally or informally - and take strides to continue being the mentor you already are.