The Transformative Power of Mentoring

After all they experienced in 2020, children and young adults across the globe can use an extra helping of support and empathy. 

Twenty-first century students face a number of challenges – from societal pressure and family obligations to financial hardships and mental health crises. 

Coping with all of this, especially for those who lack support, can be difficult. 

That’s why mentors are needed. 

As a mentor, you have the potential to change the trajectory of someone’s life, including your own. 

My life was forever changed when I responded to an ad an organization placed in the local newspaper seeking mentors for girls in its after-school program. I was a college senior at the time facing numerous challenges myself. 

I became a mentor as a way to shift the focus from my pain and trauma to help others. I was healed in the process. At the time, I was experiencing depression and PTSD after losing two close relatives. While meeting with my mentees had a positive impact for them, the experience saved my life. 

A big heart and a little time

Whether formal or informal, your mentoring relationship can have a tremendous impact, even if you spend just an hour a week connecting with your mentee virtually.

Young people who need mentors:

  • First generation college students
  • Youth in or aging out of foster care
  • Youth with an incarcerated parent
  • Low-income/homeless youth and young adults
  • Refugees
  • LGBTQ youth

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found that students who have a mentor are more likely to stay in school, attend college, volunteer, hold positions of leadership and become mentors themselves.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor but not sure if you have what it takes, answer these questions: 1. Do you have a big heart? 2. Do you have a little time? If yes and yes, then you’ve got this. 

At the end of the day, you don’t need a fancy job title or curio cabinet full of plaques and medals to make a difference for young people. 

Still unsure if mentoring is right for you? Download Empowered Flower Girl’s FREE Mentoring Guide for busy professionals. Ready to become a mentor? Check out the MENTOR search tool to locate a program near you.

Rasheda Kamaria Williams is an award-winning mentor, mentoring consultant and chief empowering officer for Empowered Flower Girl, a social enterprise that empowers youth and youth advocates to live above life’s drama to make a difference. Connect with her at www.rashedakamaria.com.

Be the change. Inspire sisterhood

After facilitating Chica Chat workshops for the past three and half years, I noticed a common desire among participants: Girls actually want positive, cordial relationships with other girls.

However some don’t feel confident enough to break the ice. They have a desire to create lasting bonds, but fear vulnerability. Results of our surveys show that the higher girls’ ability in expressing their feelings to others the more likely they are to have satisfaction in friendships.

Who can blame them for their hesitation when popular reality TV shows depict women as drama queens engaged in cat fights, backstabbing and other devious behaviors.

But there’s hope. We can transform the way girls and young women relate to one another. We can be mentors and positive role models. We can turn off the TV and have real conversations with the girls and young women in our lives. We can surround ourselves with uplifting, encouraging and authentic people.

It starts with us.

My mentoring success story

Jordan and I during an outing to Greenfield Village

Meeting your mentee and her family for the first time can be an intimidating experience.  You conjure up all kinds of scenarios in your head – a disgruntled kid, who is resistant or a suspicious parent, who questions your every move. These circumstances may play out like a drama in your mind’s eye. Thankfully, none of those happened for me. In fact, my experience was the opposite.

It’s been four years since I was introduced to my mentee Jordan. To this day, we’re still learning from each other. She’s an inquisitive, mature and friendly 12 year old. Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had since graduating college. Interestingly enough, I became a mentor for Alternatives for Girls during my senior year at Wayne State University.

Jordan’s mom Carmelita had this to say about our mentor/mentee relationship:

Jordan and I four years ago at our first group outing

“Having a mentor has introduced Jordan to different activities and experiences. She’s grown so much because of it. You all have done things together that I haven’t had the opportunity to do because of my unpredictable work schedule,” she says. “She looks at you like a big sister. She’s always excited and looks forward to the next meeting.”

Still not sure about mentoring?

Here are a few insights that may help you:

– You don’t have to be rich or famous or have super powers. Honestly, you don’t even have to be employed to be a good mentor. Kids just want to know you care.

– Most youth seeking mentors are good kids. While some youth may come from troubled backgrounds, many of them come from stable home environments. They may have challenges in school or socially. All children are different. Get to know them.

– If you have a big heart and a little time, then you’re a great candidate. Sometimes, a phone call is all it takes to make a difference.

When you feel inspired to pay it forward, consider donating your time to a young person. Visit www.mentoring.org for additional resources.