Mentorship is the patronage, influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. A mentor teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced, younger person. January is recognized as National Mentoring Month; this gives us a chance to share the difference Boys & Girls Clubs make in the lives of our members. With carefully interviewed and screened caring adults placed in each of our clubs, mentoring happens daily. Boys & Girls Club staff are committed to empowering youth to reach their full potential. For many of our members, Boys & Girls Clubs are their safe space. When you have a caring adult who listens, you are more likely to speak up. This gives us a chance to be their cheerleader and provide guidance in a tough situation.
Mentoring can help youth navigate:
- Education & Learning Barriers
- Self Confidence
- Struggles at home
- Making important decisions about their future
- Mental Health
Boys & Girls Clubs of Polk County wants to encourage our community & parents to lean onto the organization, as a familiar & safe place for their children. We are not only listening ears for our members, but for the whole family. The following is a story about how a mother worked with club leaders to mentor her son to believe in himself and develop a plan that led to success.
“I consider the work we do at the Boys & Girls Club “the gap”; it’s the space between school and home for our club members. These three and a half hours seem short, but don’t be deceived by all the fun, they are very effective.
Our club member Jamari is now in the fourth grade with a bright future. He is a star football player on his little league team and an honor roll student. Third graders are required to pass the FSA exam to move on to the fourth grade, but Jamari struggled to pass the reading portion and was initially retained this year because of it. His mother reached out to us with her concerns and the issues he was having. Jamari was crushed by being held back, and his confidence was gone.
We knew he needed help with the reading portion of the exam, but most importantly he needed encouragement to overcome his lack of confidence in himself. Let me just say, you will be amazed at what kids can accomplish when you believe in them! For the next three weeks, we worked with Jamari by building him up and encouraging him to overcome this hurdle to pass the test.
The reason why we have success with our kids is because we step into their world. We see them as a person and not a number. We tell our own past stories to let them know they are not alone. Jamari reminded me of my journey to be where I am today. We sat down and I told him as he was crying; “it’s okay, I was held back too, I struggled with taking tests”. It doesn’t define you as a person.
So no, he didn’t pass the test the first time, but just like in life, he was given a chance to try again. This time he would take the test knowing he’s giving his best no matter the outcome. The day they got the scores back, his mother gave me a call with gratitude. I cannot express the happiness I felt just to see him beat the odds.
This moment gave me hope that the work we do day in and day out, is bigger than just an after-school program, we make an impact and help build our future leaders. We cultivate change and build life skills they may have missed if they weren’t a part of our program. His story is a testament to why we do what we do daily.”
Jermisha McRae, Area Director