We recently launched our public awareness campaign to promote the Mayor's Mentoring Movement, an initiative with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to recruit 1,000 new mentors to serve Boston youth. The campaign shows real mentors who have joined the movement and are helping to support and guide young people in Boston.
Today, we feature a face from the campaign: Michael Omenazu, a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, one of the Mayor's Mentoring Movement partner programs.
Why do you think mentoring is important?
Mentoring is important because it awakens the potential for greatness and to be our best serves both those being mentored and those mentoring. Healthy mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial as all parties involved learn from each other and encourage growth.
Why did you decide to get involved?
I decided to become a Big Brother because I grew up in an environment similar to the ones many Littles live in. Being born and raised in Chicago, a city unfortunately notorious for many problems, specifically a high homicide rate and gang activity/violence, I was able to avoid many negative influences through programs similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have benefited from having caring adults who invested their time in me and thus, I not only witnessed firsthand but LIVED the power of the program. I know it works.
After graduating from college, I decided to serve in AmeriCorps, a nationally transformative community-service initiative. I was placed at Big Brothers Big Sisters with the project scope of recruiting more males, specifically ones of color. My position involved serving as an external champion of the organization, articulating and exhorting others to join. By working on convincing others to mentor, it solidified my passion for the program and I knew I had to sign up immediately!
What have you learned through being a mentor?
My Little Brother, Azul, has taught me so many things. One of the best lessons I've learned from him - in varying ways - is to enjoy and appreciate the "little" things, pun intended. The sincere and authentic enthusiasm he brings to even the most simple things serves a great reminder to have passion for life especially during times when I can easily get caught up in the minutiae of day to day events. I've grown so much as a person because he constantly pushes me to look at things from different perspectives and to value differing opinions. Most importantly, on a meta level, I've learned the power of continuous learning. He constantly takes in the world with an open mind and orientation towards personal growth which inspires me.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your mentee?
- Playing basketball
- Watching cartoons
- Creating elaborate stories
We can hang out anywhere and do anything and enjoy our time together because we will goof off and make our own fun!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved in mentoring?
I would tell someone who is thinking about getting involved in mentoring that he or she is already on the right track! It's something worthy of thoughtful consideration. To help with that, I'd encourage the person to reflect on instances and experiences when someone expressed an authentic interest in his or her well-being and success. Once done, think about ways to recreate that for someone else and pay it forward!
Are you ready to join Michael in the movement? Sign up today!