“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A mentor is someone who allows you to know that no matter how dark the night, in the morning, joy will come. A mentor is someone who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.” – Oprah Winfrey
January marked National Mentoring Month, which launched in 2002 by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, focusing national attention on the need for mentors while also engaging with different stakeholders to work together to increase the number of mentors to ensure positive outcomes for young people.
Recently, President Donald J. Trump celebrated this campaign by delivering an important message about youth volunteering, stressing the critical role mentors serve as “role models to children, and their faithful presence often makes a tremendous difference in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual development of their mentees.”
Mentors play a significant role in shaping and impacting America’s youth on both academic and social levels. For example, youths who are paired with mentors are more likely to attend and be more engaged in school (students with mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip classes), finish high school and go on to college, and form more positive social attitudes and relationships.
Paul Moquin, a young professional from New Jersey, currently mentors a teen at Disability Allies. For nearly a year, he enjoys mentoring at this organization because “I am compassionate on helping people with disabilities and wanting them to feel good about themselves.”
Furthermore, there is a personal connection for Paul wanting to be a mentor as “my brother has a disability, so I want to understand those individuals better. Sometimes, it is hard to understand my brother, and sometimes I lose my patience with him, but because of the experiences understanding and helping my brother, I am able to apply that with my current client.”
Paul also shared how mentoring has impacted his mental health life: “I have become much happier, more driven, and further engaged in helping others unlike in past years.”
Being a mentor truly has a wide range of benefits, including increased self-esteem; a sense of accomplishment; creation of networks of volunteers; insight into childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood; and increased patience and improved supervisory skills. The effectiveness and benefits of mentors is a true reflection that they are fostering and engaging positive social change in our world.
It is important to remember that mentors are not meant to be replacements for parents, guardians, or teachers. Rather, they serve as both cheerleaders and a greater source of inspiration for a child’s development.
Furthermore, mentors are committed citizens of our world. No matter what specific backgrounds or skills mentors possess, their time and service are valuable, as they are ultimately transforming the lives of America’s youth in the most meaningful way.