Meet the match: Aweys and Jeff from Springfield School Volunteers

National Mentoring Month is January and we're excited to bring a variety of posts highlighting mentoring in Massachusetts. This guest post is courtesy of Springfield School Volunteers

What do a young man from Somalia and an Administrator from the SPS Parent and Community Engagement office have in common? The Springfield School Volunteers Mentoring Program, that’s what!

Jeff Welch. Aweys AliIn December 2009, Jeff Welch responded when asked to mentor a young man from Somalia. Aweys was starting high school and in need of a positive male presence in his life. They have been together for three years and Aweys is now a senior at the High School of Science and Technology with Jeff there to support him.

Jeff says, “Aweys has become more social and confident in his English language skills. Academically, he has an understanding of the larger picture in terms of class importance … He has become more mature and really cares about me and my family.”

Jeff believes that mentoring Aweys “gives me a sense of perspective and it really lets me see what families go through, and always have gone through, when they first come to America. Whether it’s language, religion or food, the transition is difficult and any way that I can make the transition easier is good for us both.”

Aweys says that he likes the program because Jeff encourages him and always tells him that he can be whatever he wants to be with hard work and focus. “He tells me to ask for help if I need it and to let teachers know that I want to learn. He has taught me manners, respectfulness and politeness, as well.

He has helped me with history and math, but also helped me prepare for my driver’s license test and has given me career choice guidance.”

According to Jeff, “In addition to wonderful training, easy access and periodical updates through e-mail and newsletters, the Springfield School Volunteers Mentoring Program has provided a platform for two people who may seem really different to come together, connect, and realize that we are pretty similar and we both truly benefit from the friendship.”

About Springfield School Volunteers
The mission of Springfield School Volunteers is to promote and facilitate learning-focused community involvement in support of the Springfield Public Schools” goal of ensuring that every child attain a high level of academic achievement in a safe and supportive environment.

For more information about how you can make a difference by mentoring a student in the Springfield Public Schools, please visit the Springfield School Volunteers website at www.springfieldschoolvolunteeers.org or call 413.787.7015.