When describing the role of a mentor, “supportive” is a word many would choose but ask an at-risk youth and you might get another answer – lifesaver.
January is National Mentor Month where we recognize those who have helped us become who we are today. From professional achievements to wellness, we have all been impacted by inspiring people who have shaped our path to becoming a better us. But how about for a child who did not have a stable upbringing to begin with, whose family does not fit the typical middle-income profile, who may not have a stable parent figure in their life? For that child, a mentor becomes someone invaluable, a trusted adult that they can rely upon through a turbulent time.
In my time at Vista, I’ve witnessed how crucial a mentor is to our residents, students, and Wraparound participants. One of the most impactful mentorship opportunities we offer is through our relationship mentor program. The impact is made by a consistent adult figure showing up on campus each week and spending meaningful time with our residents. Maybe that means hearing about your favorite musical artist, or watching their favorite YouTube video, or just hearing some positive words of encouragement after a difficult day. What it means for our youth is an adult they can count on. But what many forget is the impact and value that a meaningful relationship with a youth has on the mentor.
What we want those considering becoming a mentor to know is this: A mentor is not a judge, therapist, or “fixer” but rather a resource, a good listener, a role model, and a trusted friend. But more importantly what many forget is the impact and value that a meaningful relationship with a youth has on the mentor. Most mentors I have met have been quick to point out that what they have received from the experience has been more than worth the effort they put in. The mentors I have interacted with always express that they have received far more from the experience and well-worth the effort they put in.
If you or someone you know is interested in being a mentor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.