Yawkey Foundations’ James Healey discusses mentoring’s impact

From time to time, we highlight different perspectives on The Mentor Effect from community leaders across Massachusetts. Today's perspective comes from James Healey, president of The Yawkey Foundations. The Yawkey Foundations is a key supporter of mentoring through generous support of Mass Mentoring and our mentoring programs across the region. Their commitment to the movement provides important leadership in helping to ensure all young people have a caring adult mentor in their life.

JPH revisedWhy do you believe mentoring is important?
Everybody needs a mentor in their life in order to be successful. In particular, underprivileged youth are in greatest need of a mentor because they may not have that support system at home. Mentoring is also crucial to avoiding the pitfalls of the street and temptation of gangs.

We see the need for mentoring often in our Yawkey Scholars Program, which is designed to make college affordable for talented, motivated, low-income Massachusetts students. Most applicants already had a mentor in their life helping them through high school and also helping them navigate the college application process. After we launched the program, we were finding that our scholars, no longer using their high school mentors, were contacting us directly when they were having a problem. So we made some important changes to the program and made it mandatory that our scholars stay in touch with an advisor the program provided throughout their college career so that they get the mentoring, coaching and guidance they need to help address issues before they became problematic. It’s been incredibly helpful to the success of our scholars and the program.

Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
My parents, who were both immigrants, were the best mentors I had, as they were always there to guide me and instill important values in me. In my college days, I would say former Boston Red Sox head groundskeeper Joe Mooney was a key influence in my life and someone from whom I learned a lot. He taught me about the value of hard work, loyalty, respect, perseverance and the importance of education. He helped a lot of young people over his career and it’s because of the opportunity and structure he provided back then that a lot of these young people went on to successful careers.

To learn how you or your business can get involved, visit www.massmentors.org.