January is National Mentoring Month

by Howard Gerber on January 12, 2012

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Working in industries such as health care and education takes a great commitment to helping others. One way to have an even greater impact on our community is to become a mentor or to support a mentoring organization. National Mentoring Month began in 2002 as a joint effort between the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Mentoring Partnership. Since 2006 the Corporation of National and Community Service has been working on the project as well. There are numerous ways for you to become involved in the mentoring initiative.

Become a Mentor

Mentoring has become increasingly important because there are so many children and teenagers who have few good role models in their daily lives. Mentors do not need to become a surrogate parent, simply an authoritative and dependable presence. Many mentoring programs only ask mentors for a few hours each month. This regular stability can be dramatically influential for a young person who may have very few responsible and stable people in his or her life. Consider speaking to your employer about facilitating employee mentoring with one of these organizations. Even if there are no official mentoring initiatives in your community, the local schools may have after school tutoring programs which would benefit from volunteers.

Support Mentoring

There are numerous national organizations that facilitate mentoring. If you do not have the time to mentor yourself due to work and family schedules, consider donating to help one of the organizations. National mentoring organizations to consider include Big Brothers Big Sisters and Mentor: National Mentoring Partnership. There are also numerous city and state specific groups. Again, if you have limited options locally but want to help children in your own area there are after school groups and programs that would benefit from a monetary donation.

Peer Mentoring

While National Mentoring Month focuses on mentors for children, being a mentor to someone new to our field is also a great way to give back. Peer mentoring offers professionals to help those who have entered a degree program in your field, recently graduated, or recently been hired in your field. Most school districts and hospitals have organized peer mentoring which one can sign up for. You may need to take training classes or it may be more informal. If you choose to peer mentor, remember to tell them some of the tricks you have picked up that may not have been found in a textbook, such as how to deal with a problem client, the best place to relax after work, and any local establishments that offer discounts for your profession or company.

Have you ever been a mentor? Were you mentored as a child or in your profession? Share your mentoring experiences!

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