As Mass Mentoring Partnership's newest staff member, I am honored to be part of such a talented and passionate team and to serve as manager of Western MA partnerships. I fell in love with this region during my time at Western New England University and am thrilled to continue to give back to the community and help grow the field of mentoring.
Prior to joining MMP, I was a training & program manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/Metrowest. During my time there, I focused on site-based program development and support, mentor training, and was a member of a Board of Directors committee focused on staff development. In addition, I worked on the implementation of the Mentoring Children of Prisoners and Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention grants, ensuring that our highest risk children were matched effectively.
One of the most rewarding partnerships I was part of was between College of the Holy Cross and Girls Inc. of Worcester. In early 2011, we piloted a girl-specific, after-school program with 10 mentors. The outcomes have been tremendous and the retention rate going into year two was almost 100%.
I realized that mentoring was the field I wanted to be part of during my year as an AmeriCorps VISTA through Massachusetts Campus Compact. I served at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester in the Donelan Office of Community Based Learning. I was primarily responsible for connecting students with meaningful community experiences that married theory and practice. In my first week, over 20 students told me they wanted their experience to be as a “Big.” I came to learn that Big Brothers Big Sisters was the biggest volunteer placement at the Holy Cross. In 2012, 308 students served as “Bigs.” Their dedication to their “Little” is what led me not only to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but also to become a mentor myself.
Two years ago I was matched with Nicole, my now 14-year-old mentee. One of my favorite moments with her was showing up to her house with a bike that was donated to the agency and spending the afternoon teaching her to ride it. It is now something we do together often and in a couple of years hope to complete the Rodman Ride for Kids together. She has now also requested that I teach her how to drive! Nicole has taught me to never give up, she has overcome a lot in her short life and she has big dreams, I’m glad I can be part of her journey.
I have been fortunate to have tremendous mentors throughout my life from my academic advisor who enrolled me in a public speaking course when I told him how afraid of it I was to community leaders who have guided my growth as an active citizen and encouraged me to chase my dreams. I truly believe in the power of mentoring, having experienced it both professionally and personally. In my position I hope to raise awareness around the importance of mentoring, leverage resources for programs, and work together to grow the field of mentoring.
Guest author Sarah Shugrue is the manager of Western MA partnerships