The following post was written by Ashley McHaney, AmeriCorps VISTA and Villa Pals Coordinator.
Attending the National Mentoring Summit (#2014NMS) for the second year in a row was extremely rewarding and worthwhile. From the numerous networking opportunities to the informational sessions on a broad range of topics, not only am I gleaning knowledge to support the mentoring program that I currently coordinate, but I am also continuing to be inspired and energized to further the cause of mentoring. Mentoring takes on so many different shapes and sizes and certainly does not fit a specific mold. Everyone at this conference and I mean everyone—program coordinators, CEOs, mentors, advocates, fundraisers—has a deep passion for helping youth be connected and engaged within the mentoring movement. I could go on and on with a list of wonderful people I’ve met and advice I’ve been given, but I believe that for a lot of those involved in mentoring, we occasionally just need a pat on the back along with some inspiration that what we are doing, no matter how big or small, is making a positive impact in the life of a child.
Additionally, I want to share seven truths that I’ve heard throughout the course of this conference. These quotes highlight the importance of mentoring within our community:
- “Mentoring is a critical piece to creating opportunity.”
- “Mentors don’t need to be superheroes…they just need to be there.”
- “Mentoring improves youth’s capacity for other relationships.”
- “Mentoring is truly successful when your mentee becomes a mentor.”
- “I want every student to have every opportunity. It’s not just my job. It’s what I am about.”
- “Mentors are caring adults who help those youth with no voice find their voice and in turn find their way.”
- “Every adult needs to chase our kids for good, because they will be pursued by bad if we don’t.”
The children involved in the Villa Pals mentoring program at St. Joseph’s Villa are greatly benefiting from our staff and the local community enacting these truths. However, studies show that 1 in 3 American youth will reach adulthood without connecting to a mentor of any kind. There are more children at the Villa, plus hundreds of thousands of youth in Virginia who do not have a mentor that could definitely benefit from having one. A mentor could be the difference between staying in school or dropping out; engaging as a citizen or disconnecting from school, work, and civic life. So as you read this, please stop and think, what can I do to close the gap?
There is a simple answer: Be a Mentor! We have opportunities at St. Joseph’s Villa that will meet your schedule and will help our students define and find success. There are also mentoring opportunities all over the state of Virginia that work with multiple populations through some amazing programs. Be someone who matters to someone who matters – become a mentor today!
Click here to learn how you can become a Villa Pal.