Mentoring brings us together. While we can often focus on what separates us from one another, the mentoring relationship can teach us how alike we are and what it means to make a difference in someone’s life, regardless of status, culture or upbringing.
As the challenges of our modern and sometimes impersonal society have expanded, people have stepped forward to make a difference. According to the report, 25 percent of adults in the U.S. are now engaged in mentoring relationships. More than 60 percent of mentors in structured programs are men.
Remembering a mentor
Many of us can think about a time when an adult who was not our parent helped us with an important problem, gave us some key advice or taught us a skill. Bill remembers when a high school counselor recognized his potential for college work and encouraged him to apply when he thought he never would. It made a significant difference in his life.
Tom remembers fondly his speech teacher in high school, Mr. Harrison Rose, who encouraged him to enter a state competition. Tom can still hear Mr. Rose’s deep, rich voice as he coached his young student. Not only did Tom reach the state semifinals that year, but years later, he taught high school English, speech and drama, thanks to Mr. Rose’s lasting influence.
The need for mentoring
Mentoring happens in two common ways, through a structured program or organization whose mission is to connect adults and youth in meaningful relationships; and through informal arrangements in schools, after-school programs, neighborhood associations or places of worship.
The mentoring need is real. In MENTOR’s 2014 report, “The Mentoring Effect,” one-in-three youth had no non-parental adult role model to guide them or support them. The lack of a mentor was even higher for kids who grew up with the greatest levels of risk in their environment, even though their desire for a mentor was highest.
In the last year, 24 million adults in the US were mentoring in structured programs and 44 million adults were mentoring informally. Eighteen to 29-year-olds are more than twice as likely to have had a mentor in their life than those older than 50, which shows a rise in mentoring relationships. Almost half of today’s young adults report having a mentor.
As the report points out, when a lack of unity is being felt and we are questioning our commitment to one another as citizens, mentoring provides an opportunity to reconnect and make a difference. We all care about the development of our young people and the ultimate contribution they will make to our society. Each of us can extend a hand and serve our youth by using the power of relationships to heal, solve problems and form a more perfect union, engaging in the mentoring movement to invest in youth in our communities.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at email@example.com.