Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse & community leaders celebrate National Mentoring Month

As part of our 20 Challenges in 2012 initiative, we launched the Mayors for Mentoring campaign to engage mayors from around Massachusetts in raising awareness of the need for more mentors in their city; recognizing local mentoring programs and their participants; and encouraging  ways for individuals and communities to get involved in mentoring in their city.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is one of our Mayors for Mentoring, and he helped celebrate National Mentoring Month in Holyoke in January.

On January 28, he and more than 50 supporters of mentoring joined Mass Mentoring Partnership and MMP Board Member Ann Burke at the Holyoke Health Center to celebrate National Month. The event was moderated by Ann, who is the Vice President of the Economic Development Council of Western MA.

Mayor Morse proclaimed January as Holyoke Mentoring Month. He also spoke about the personal impact mentoring has had on his life and why mentoring is vital to the health of the Holyoke community.

“Mentoring programs are a proven and powerful community strategy that

[caption id="attachment_1087" align="alignleft" width="300"]Mayor Alex Morse Mayor Alex Morse[/caption]

impacts the wide variety of critical social issues facing the young people of the City of Holyoke," he said. "Whether they are faced with academic challenges, the risk of teen pregnancy, or violence and bullying, students who are invested in a high-quality mentoring relationship are not only likely to experience an increase both in self-esteem and a hope for the future, but they are provided with the skills they need to rise above the pressures of adolescence that so many of our young people face on a regular basis."

Paul McCraven, Senior Vice President Community Development with First Niagara - one of the key supporters of mentoring in Western MA - spoke about their investment in mentoring through their "Mentoring Matters" program, which includes support for the pilot of the Dean Technical High School Career Pathways Mentoring Program, which assists mentees with workforce development. The Dean Tech program was developed in partnership with MMP, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Dean Technical High School, and the Holyoke Health Center. Paul also announced that their support will continue in 2013 through a grant that is focused solely on innovative projects and program enhancements in Holyoke.

[caption id="attachment_1088" align="alignleft" width="300"]Mentees from Dean Tech Career Pathways Mentoring Mentees from Dean Tech Career Pathways Mentoring[/caption]

The Dean Tech mentees were in attendance and acknowledged by George Barton, Director of Business Development with the Holyoke Health Center. Eileen Cavanaugh, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, emphasized the importance of career exploration and spoke of how innovative and replicable this mentoring model is. Youth who are exposed to different career choices and who learn important workforce skills translate to better prepared and more skillful workers in the future.

Ashley Ewick, a mentor and staff member at Girls Inc. of Holyoke, shared her perspective on mentoring's impact on her and the small group of girls she works with. The Girls Inc. small-group mentoring program serves girls between 11-15 and includes several hours of the Girls Inc. curriculum, which includes financial literacy, teen pregnancy prevention and community leadership.

The celebration concluded with an inspiring personal story of mentoring from Rich Greif, MMP Director of Marketing and Public Awareness. He also discussed the many ways individuals, schools and businesses can support mentoring and urged everyone to think about how they can invest in mentoring in their communities.

Sarah Shugrue is the Manager of Western MA Partnerships with Mass Mentoring Partnerships. To learn more about mentoring in Holyoke contact her at 413-262-1227 or sshugrue@massmentors.org