By Wendy Freundlich
As September approaches and summer comes to its inevitable end, think about becoming a mentor with Girls/Boyz First Mentoring. We are a 22 year old community based mentoring program in central Vermont. Our mission is to provide our mentees with high-quality, long-term mentoring relationships that inspire, support and enable our mentees to realize their full potential and prepare for successful futures as productive, responsible and caring individuals.
A project of Washington Central Friends of Education, GBF serves WCSU and Montpelier youth. Typically, children join our program between the ages of 8-10. Although GBF is a one-year commitment, mentor pairs often stay connected through high school and even into young adulthood. Initially, pairs meet 2 hours weekly and enjoy all kinds of activities together, from recreational to educational to community service projects. Later on, as elementary age children grow into middle/high school students, the pairs may meet less frequently, perhaps every other week or monthly, as their social and academic commitments change. Girls/Boyz First Mentoring offers flexibility of meeting days and times and can accommodate changing schedules.
Why does mentoring work? Children thrive on face-to-face contact with caring adults. Indeed, there is no substitute for such connections when it comes to everything from language to emotional and physical development. Thus, it is no surprise that research shows that youth who have mentors do better in school, feel better about themselves, get along better with their families and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
However, youth are not the only ones reaping benefits from the mentoring relationship. According to Michael D. Eisner, of the Eisner Foundation, and Marc Freedman, a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, the benefits of mentoring are reciprocal and improve the quality of the adult’s life as well. As adults age into midlife and beyond, the tendency to want to nurture the next generation is a natural impulse. Research shows that adults who follow this natural impulse to connect with and guide younger generations are three times more likely to be happy in later life than their peers who do not.
Our aging population can be an extraordinary asset for young people in need of support and guidance but the gift goes both ways.
For more information about becoming a mentor with Girls/Boyz First Mentoring, please contact Wendy Freundlich, at 802-224-6500, go to our website at girlsboyzfirst.org or look us up on FACEBOOK