Every day in communities across the country, caring adults volunteer their time with mentoring programs to create consistent and supportive relationships to young people. At its most basic level, mentoring is successful in real life because it guarantees a young person has an adult to turn to and that they have a guiding hand to help them in dealing with day-to-day challenges. At a more complex level, there is a powerful mentoring effect that ultimately makes our communities stronger.
Hundreds of Lowcountry youth have moved through our program and have graduated from high school and beyond. This last week of National Mentoring Month will be dedicated to telling our amazing alumni stories, a true testimony of the power of mentoring.
Walt Wake met his mentee Aaron in middle school and continues to communicate with him even after he has graduated from high school. Take a heart warming glimpse into what the pair are doing now and how mentoring has made an impact in their lives.
"I am so glad to hear from you at Be A Mentor. The small amount of time I invested in the program while in Charleston created some of the best memories of our life there. Now that I am semi-retired and live in Colorado, I dearly miss all you folks back East but plan to find a similar program here in the greater Denver area.
Happy Mentoring Month. Aaron and I spoke on Christmas Eve. He brought me up to date with what's going on in his life. From the first time we met, he always expressed a strong desire to serve his country. So one of the first things he and I discussed was how to get the opportunity to serve and protect the United States. WE decided that he would need a high school diploma to be eligible to enlist. And to graduate, we would need to raise our grades. So the path to success really boiled down to applying one's self and completing and turning in homework assignments. Thus the game plan was created and began with a decision to be the best that he could be. Aaron joined JROTC while still in Charleston and continued his training after moving to North Carolina where he graduated from High School in the Charlotte area this past June. Aaron reported for US Army boot camp but unfortunately had his Armed Forces career cut short due to an injury. Upon his recovery, he plans to apply his leadership skills in a law enforcement career.
So you see, my friends, a young man learned to make good decisions and discovered a determination from within that turned his life around. How did this happen? Because the Rick Hendrick Automotive Group and other local businesses and faith communities partnered with Be A Mentor and Charleston area school districts to positively influence the lives of young students. By encouraging people to invest a lunch break almost every week or become involved in one of the other programs, this partnership has given countless students a hand up rather than a hand out. Aaron now knows that goals are carved in stone but plans are subject to change. Why? Because a friend of his stood by him and convinced Aaron Olofsson that someone cares.
In closing, Ms. Bonnie and I hope to remain in contact with Aaron and be there for him and share some of his happy life events in the future. And he made a promise to find an "Aaron" in his life and pay it forward. I anticipate hearing that story and many more."
Hendrick Auto Group also reconnected with the pair a few years ago read their story here.
Happy National Mentoring Month! This week we are highlighting the amazing businesses that partner with us to provide incredible mentors to our community. Meadors, an architecture, conservation, construction, design, preservation, cabinetry and millwork firm here in Charleston has 10 mentors currently mentoring at Chicora Elementary.
We talked with School Coordinator, Sarah MacDonald, about the relationship they have built with Meadors this year and this is what she had to say.
"To have Meadors come in and basically adopt the school was a huge relief. It's so great to know qualified people who are caring can have this type of relationship with us. They were also the ones who got the ball rolling with the wildly successful coat drive. They are so willing to use their community connections to help us in any and every way possible. The relief support from Meadors has been incredibly astounding. They are awesome people and are always eager to talk to us about larger projects they can take on. Honestly, I was surprised by their willingness to go ABOVE and BEYOND mentorship. I have been blown away by them approaching us first and not us having to reach out to ask for things. All of the teachers and staff have responded positively and have been thoroughly impressed. We can't do it by ourselves. We need the support from parents, the community, and lawmakers. Strengthening our relationship with community partners like Meadors shows our kids that people from all socioeconomic backgrounds care about them. It widens the scope of what we can achieve together. Our friends at Meadors understand that it only takes one solid relationship to heal trauma, and we are so grateful for them. "
Happy National Mentoring Month!
Stories have power. Personal stories provide points of connection and remind us of the power of relationships to break down otherness, find common ground, and elevate shared humanity. So, All month long we will be highlighting different mentor/mentee stories according to different themes! We are so excited to share the power and impact of mentoring and we hope you all continue to follow along.
Jerry Zucker mentor, Janice Burch, was asked how has her mentee enhanced her life so far
and this is what she had to say:
"I became a mentor because I wanted to connect with and support a young person in my community with a listening ear, a caring heart, and encouragement. I hope I've helped her in those ways, but I have to say that spending an hour of my time with N'Dea is one of the highlights of my week. Getting to see the world through her eyes makes me a better person and parent. The hope and resilience she maintains, even in tough times, inspires me."
If you are a mentor, how has your mentee enhanced your life?
If you've had a mentor, how has your life been enhanced?
Let us know in the comment section below, or tag us with your response on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
48th is where South Carolina ranks amongst the best states for education (both pre-k -12+ higher education take into account). The education system has been classified by some as "minimally adequate".
In Charleston County 23% of youth are living below the federal poverty level, 40% live in a single-parent household, and more than 50% of the students in grades 3-8 failed state math and reading standards.
The future can be brighter for South Carolina's youth with the help of mentoring. Statistics have shown that young adults who were at-risk for falling off track but had a mentor are:
55% more likely to enroll in college
78% more likely to volunteer regularly
90% are interested in becoming a mentor
130% more likely to hold leadership positions
There are countless reasons why Be A Mentor does what we do. Through our program in 2018-2019 over 250 at risks students in 22 schools were paired with a caring adult role model to help guide their path.
Our mentors are advocates, positive role models, challengers, and nurturers of possibilities.
Now that we have told you our reasons, we believe that every kid on the "brink of success" deserves be empowered, do you?
learn more about the campaign and how you can contribute through this link!
Read below to hear what one mentor has to say about this year's Mentor Appreciation Celebration!
"As a long term mentor I just wanted to let you know how much I loved this year’s MAC. Although I have attended several Mentor Appreciation Celebrations in the past, this one was particularly special because it included mentors, mentees, and their families.
The music and dancing by the kids’ WATOTO group was wonderful – such energy and exuberance! The Superhero theme was something that kids and adults both loved (especially the photo booth with masks and capes), and the barbecue lunch was delicious. The most fun, however, was seeing mentors, mentees and their families playing, talking, and enjoying a meal together. My mentee and her family were not able to come, but the celebration was so open, fun and friendly that it was easy to talk to everyone.
Special thanks to all of you who planned this, and to the sponsors (what a treat that we all got Riverdogs tickets for any game this summer)! I know it took a lot of work, and it was a spectacular year end event for everyone who attended."
We couldn't agree more! Thanks to all who came out to celebrate another great school year and remind us that Not All Superheroes Wear Capes.
On February 15th, Be A Mentor partnered with Grow Financial Federal Credit Union to bring their “Reality of Money” seminar to 7th graders at West Ashley Middle School. This financial literacy simulation taught students the impact their choices make on their budget and lifestyle through role playing. The students were “transformed” into wage earning, bill paying, and financially independent young adults, where they learned:
Be A Mentor is proud to partner with Grow Financial Federal Credit Union and West Ashley Middle School on this event, and was happy to facilitate this incredible learning opportunity for students. Read below to hear feedback from local students:
“I learned that I definitely want to go to college. I also know that it’s okay to get cheaper things, just so you don’t go into debt”
“It’s hard to pay for simple things, like groceries, if you spend too much on unnecessary things like entertainment!”
“I learned to truly appreciate everything my mom does when it comes to money”
Just 9 months ago at the start of senior year, Mary was matched with her mentor Nikki, a postdoctoral fellow at MUSC. The pair was matched because of a shared interest in neuroscience, and planned to spend the year focusing on career exploration and the upcoming college application process. As their relationship developed,
neither Nikki nor Mary could possibly imagine the friendship and opportunities the future would hold.
The pair’s commitment and dedication this year has paid off tri-fold: next week, Mary will graduate from North Charleston High School as Salutatorian of her class. Then, come September, Mary will attend Furman University to continue her education in the pair’s shared passion of Neuroscience. Although the school year is over, their friendship is strong and pair plans to keep in touch - Mary will spend the summer interning at MUSC in the same lab where Nikki works to gain her first professional experience. They say good things comes in threes...we couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations, Mary and Nikki on a tremendous year and a bright future!
It's hard to believe Spring has sprung, and summer vacation will be rolling around the corner before we know it. As the 2016-2017 school year comes to an end, so will Be A Mentor's weekly mentoring sessions. Whether you are continuing on with your mentee for another year or with the end of the school year comes the end of your mentoring relationship- it is important to openly acknowledge the situation and what your time spent together has meant to you both as a pair.
Read below for tips and tricks on having this discussion with your mentee!
1. Identify natural emotions associated with closure, which might include grief, denial and anger.
Remember your responsibility as a role model in the closure process. While you might be feeling loss and sadness yourself, make sure that your mentee does not feel as though s/he has to take care of you. Think about your own schedule and discuss with your school coordinator about continuing the match for the next school year BEFORE the process of closure begins so that you can talk to your mentee about this option. If you have any questions or concerns about the end of the school year or continuing with your mentee, please do not hesitate to contact us or your school coordinator.
Your dedication this past year has made a world of difference in a child's life- thank you!
April“He is learning how to set goals and work towards them.
My favorite memory so far is when we set a behavior goal that he knocked out of the park, and as a result we played Bounce-Off during one of our sessions as a reward.
There are so many deserving children in our community that could easily fall between the cracks and not achieve what they set out to, and I hope to reverse that trend in my work with Be A Mentor.”
- Towner Magill, April Mentor of the Month
Be A Mentor is honored to highlight Towner Magill as the April Mentor of the Month for his inspiring dedication to his mentee., Zy'meyir. While they have not been matched for long, Towner and Zy have have already established a great bond, and are tackling goals together left and right. Looking forward, he hopes he can continue as Zy's mentor throughout next school year and beyond- hoping to see him through high school and going to college.
Whether it is hanging out in the library or shooting hoops in the gym, Towner is making a world of difference as such a positive role model. Congratulations! And thank you for being such a wonderful mentor.
"Simply by not quitting, you will succeed."
This past weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of Charleston's Cooper River Bridge Run. Nearly 40,000 runners, walkers, and sideline supporters came from near and far to celebrate a beautiful day of exercise, sunshine and community. The cheering crowd lined streets, the hundreds of volunteers that make the event possible, the encouraging pat on the back from a fellow runner that helps you push on a little further- these are the acts of kindness that make the Cooper River Bridge Run an iconic Charleston staple.
The same community based mindset is what bridges the gap to success in the Lowcountry's youth who are "on the brink of success." Mentors are cheerleaders, volunteers and support systems. The hour a week BAM's mentors spend with their child helps bridge the gap to their future successes. Just like the Cooper River Bridge Run, it takes a community to reach the finish line.