January Is National Mentoring Month – Here’s Your Chance To Give Back To RVA Youth

by | Jan 22, 2014 | POLITICS

January is National Mentoring Month; I know the month is almost over, but

January is National Mentoring Month; I know the month is almost over, but it’s never too late to start changing the life of someone in need of guidance. Numerous studies not only show that mentoring youth helps the mentee make better decisions in life, but also report happier lives of the mentors and a consistently positive impact on the community.

For those of you who want to but don’t know how to get involved with youth mentoring, here are four of the many great places in Richmond that can help you get started:

Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond
Boys and Girls Club seeks to give opportunities to young people, particularly to those who come from underprivileged backgrounds. It offers mentoring services from tutoring, coaching sports, and leading activities and games. The organization has five core program areas: character and leadership development; education and career development; health and life skills; the arts; and sports, fitness, and recreation. Volunteers are expected to assist in the five core areas when mentoring, and volunteer opportunities can be found here.

Carver Promise Program at George Washington Carver Elementary School
Carver Promise, run by program coordinator Casey Rogers, is a program where mentors come in once a week to meet with a student from Carver Elementary School, an inner-city elementary school located in the Carver District of Richmond. Carver Promise is unique in that it matches each individual mentor up with a student; this allows the mentors “to work with the kids for multiple years,” Rogers said, adding that “the program then follows those kids throughout middle and high school in hopes of getting them exposed and interested in college.” Rogers continued and said that mentoring “[expands mentors’] minds and their worlds… a lot of people don’t realize the impacts they can make on somebody. The goal of mentoring programs is that everybody has somebody outside their family to make them feel important, and that’s what mentors do.” Volunteering information and opportunities can be found by e-mailing Ms. Casey Rogers at [email protected]

Spark of Life
An organization with an emphasis on mentoring and guiding young ladies ages eight to twelve, Spark of Life hopes to “empower and support youth, families and communities with programs and events that help build educational, personal, and leadership development skills.” Spark of Life’s founder and executive director Tabatha Spurlock said that it is “good to have a foundation early on as [young adults] are establishing their careers so they won’t miss that connection with the community and the importance of giving back to others.” Anyone with a time and passion can get started as a mentor, as “just being there for the child” is the easiest part of mentoring, said Spurlock. The program is seeking mentors for its after school program for the new school year as well as mentors for its all-girl summer retreat, and opportunities can be found here.

Transforming Today’s Youth
The Transforming Today’s Youth (TTY) mentor program focuses on youth from single-parent homes. It hopes to expose youth to “positive role models and alternative lifestyles to encourage them to remain in school and set positive goals for their adult lives.” TTY also provides a higher education program to support low-income high school students graduate from high school and gain full-time jobs or admission to college. Mentoring programs are offered in criminal justice, technology, engineering, medical, education, psychology, and arts and science, and more information and a mentor application can be found here.

All of these programs are free, sometimes coming with a one-time fee to perform a background check (less than $20). I personally have mentored for over six years now, at a local disabled home during high school and at Carver Promise in college. There is no better fulfillment than the rewarding feeling of knowing that you have made a difference in someone else’s life, especially someone who would not have been able to obtain whatever it is you have given them otherwise, whether it is a friend or a role model. Happiness comes from helping others (scientifically proven!), so mentor if you can, or volunteer in general. I promise that it will make you just as happy as those you help.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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