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.
We, here at the R. J. Leonard Foundation, are more than ready to say goodbye to 2020 but not without remembering the lessons learned throughout the year first. Looking back, we see that:
Here’s to 2021.
2020 has shown us time and time again just how generous our RJLF family of supporters is, and the holiday season has been no different. Since the launch of our Fellows’ wish lists in late November, our doorstep has been flooded with gifts – gifts that will be wrapped and delivered this week.
This means that our Fellows and their children will have magical holidays thanks to you!
We could not be more grateful.
On Sunday, December 6, our Fellows were treated to mini photoshoots with their loved ones at Masons Mill Park in Willow Grove.
Meghan Hughes of Meghan Renee Photography gifted all who were interested with the opportunity. She, along with our Fellows and their children, bundled (and masked) up for a cold and windy morning. Everyone was all smiles in front of and behind the camera, as Meghan captured the images. Those who participated will receive a printed 8 x 10, as well as digital files.
We know that our Fellows will love the pictures when they arrive and for years to come as they look back at this snapshot of their family in 2020.
Thank you Meghan!!!!
On December 10th from 11am – 8pm, we have the opportunity to earn money for the foundation with our very own Shop for a Cause Event! Please join me in a shopping trip to Busy Bee Toys at 58 E. State St. in downtown Doylestown.
How can you help? Bring your family and friends to this wonderful locally owned toy store and when you make a purchase, a percentage of your sale will come back to the RJ Leonard Foundation! All you have to do is mention that you are shopping for the foundation in store or add a note in the comments section of your online purchase. Easy Peasy! The more people that shop, the more money we will receive to use toward Scholarships for our Fellows. So please help make this a success and shop for OUR cause!
Don’t have children to shop for? No problem! Busy Bee Toys has great games and puzzle for adults! Or, you can even make a purchase for Toys for Tots and Busy Bee Toys will make sure the donation goes to the Marines and into the hands of a needy child!
Hope to see you there!
What do you do when you’re the sole caregiver to your young children and you’re not just diagnosed with COVID-19 but knocked down by its symptoms? How do you pay the bills? How do you take care of them? How do you take care of you?
The answer to these questions are easier for those with a network of people and a financial foundation they can rely on, but they’re impossible for others to answer.
At the R.J. Leonard Foundation, we work to help our Fellows build a network of individuals and resources they can turn to in times of need, so that when a global pandemic becomes a personal crisis, they aren’t alone.
Click here to learn more about the Foundation and how you can be a part of that network.
This year, the holidays look different. Crowded family parties are giving way to more intimate celebrations, as the COVID-19 numbers continue to climb throughout the country. For many - particularly parents - the pared down festivities mean a little extra where possible: perhaps a few more gifts, favorite desserts after dinners or new traditions that infuse an ounce more of magic into 2020.
However, that little bit of magic isn’t possible for everyone. For many, COVID-19 didn’t just lead to smaller gatherings. It resulted in job loss, reduced hours and other forms of financial instability. Many of our Fellows have seen their incomes reduce over the past 8 months with few signs that it will restore in full any time soon. For them, the holidays will be a reminder of the obstacles they continue to face.
But they don’t have to be. You can help infuse that little bit of magic into their days by helping us fulfill their wishlists. Click here to purchase a gift for a Fellow or their children, making the end of 2020 a little brighter.
We already know - because so many of us are experiencing it firsthand - that the isolation and uncertainty that come with a global pandemic are impacting mental health. In August, the CDC reported that 40% of Americans acknowledged struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations and/or substance use.
Now, researchers are finding that a diagnosis of coronavirus could be associated with an increased risk of a mental health diagnosis. A recent study found that nearly one in five individuals diagnosed with coronavirus are, within three months, diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. The prevalence is greater than with individuals who struggled with other physical conditions, such as the flu.
Why this is and how mental health concerns will develop in the long-term remains unknown. But the findings remind us of an important message: We must not lose sight of our mental health in our concern for physical health.
Practice self-care, seek help when needed, don’t be afraid to admit your struggles and encourage loved ones to do the same.