In honor of National Mentoring Month, we asked Massachusetts State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry to share her thoughts on mentoring and the effect that it has had on her life.
January is National Mentoring Month and I encourage you to consider becoming a mentor in the New Year. I know from my own experiences the role that a caring adult can play in a young person’s life.
Growing up in Boston, my parents were my very first mentors. They worked extremely hard to provide opportunities for my siblings and I, as they also helped other families. My parents mentored many families on becoming citizens and acclimating to this new country. I witnessed their generosity firsthand, by them opening up their home and giving free housing to Haitian immigrants, who did not have relatives in Boston. As a result, making connections between people, sharing experiences and helping those in need became the norm.
Far too often, however, children may not have the strong family support needed to prepare them for the challenges they face in school, work and life. Therefore, one of the most crucial and valuable connections a young person can have is a mentor-mentee relationship.
Succeeding in school is about more than choosing classes and completing homework on time. Academic success can only happen when children feel confident and strong, and are given time to express their emotions and process how the everyday events of their lives may impact their school performance. Without sufficient one-on-one time with a caring adult, many children may not get the emotional support needed to tackle the mountain of tasks necessary to get to graduation.
According to Mass Mentoring Partnership, the estimated cost to Massachusetts of one high school dropout is $467,231. By the time a young person is considering dropping out of school, there were numerous opportunities to help shape a more positive outcome through an engaged, caring adult.
A positive role model, in the form of a mentor, can assist a young person in realizing that their dreams and hopes are possible. We should strive to expose all children to these positive influences. Indeed, group mentoring is also important since it allows young people to receive support from others with similar experiences and backgrounds.
Becoming a mentor is all about taking the time to share stories, experiences or a laugh with someone. It is the belief that your experience and time can play a ‘positive’ role in a person’s life.
There is nothing quite like the spark that ignites when a mentee finds his or her mentor, or vice versa. As a mentoring relationship evolves over time, both sides usually find that they are learning much more than they ever thought possible and are forever changed.
Become a mentor. It’s National Mentoring Month, so there‘s no better time to begin!
Senator Forry is a member of the Massachusetts State Senate representing the 1st Suffolk District, which includes Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan and South Boston. She will be a featured speaker at Youth Mentoring Day at the State House on Thursday, January 22.