We began recruiting our 7 Mentors and 3 Mentees in the late summer of 2012. Since then, this group has met about 9 times, and in that short time, each of the Mentees have begun developing true supportive friendships with one or more of the Mentors. In addition to monthly group meetings, each Mentee is able to connect with her Mentor(s) each week by getting together for coffee, lunch, or chatting on the phone/email.
One of the Mentees recently commented about the program, saying, “I finally feel like I belong to my community and have friends that really care about me.” This Mentee has worked hard to meet some of her goals in the past 6 months, thanks in part to the support of her two Mentors and the Bridges of Hope case manager: she has increased her work hours, finished another semester of college with a 3.0 GPA, and has even learned some new cooking skills!
After each group meeting, as our closing activity, we ask each person for a “one word description” to sum up the night. Here are some of the words used to describe the program so far:
This program is all about relationships, and in addition to educational/skill-building group meetings such as a Family Law clinic; some of the activities the group has done together include baking over 50 dozen Christmas cookies, having a Spa Night, and a Game Night.
Having a Spa Night Foot Massage
The program is to help women living in poverty or facing other challenging life situations develop a network that will support them to stabilize their life and realize their full potential. The Side by Side program aims to create relationships between volunteer Mentors and Mentees and was designed to assist women who have the desire and potential to set and reach new life goals while working with a Mentor who will support them in their journey. The relationship is Mentee-driven, with goal-setting in three areas: Income Stability, Skills & Education, and Relationships & Meaning.
Does that sound intriguing to you? Then I have great news! Beginning now (and through June 2013), we are looking for 6-8 new volunteer Mentors to begin “walking side by side” with a Mentee. If you are interested in learning more about what being a Mentor is all about, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org (or call 218.825.7682).