Sep30WedSeptember 30, 2015
I remember the phone call vividly, “Melodie, your mother and my mother are good friends, I would love to meet you. Could I take you out for hot chocolate after school next week?” Deb Kuyers entered my world - I was barely out of elementary school, and this beautiful, vivacious high-school junior wanted to spend time with me! That phone call changed the course of my life.
Forty years later, I still remember the investment Deb made in my young life. I salute my mother for encouraging Deb to call me. Though my godly, stay-at-home mother was an amazing woman, she recognized that other individuals could play an important role in building upon the foundation she and my father had laid.
Deb is one amazing “hero” in my life. There are others, but few as significant as Deb.
Touching the life of a child can occur naturally. Encouraging words are cherished and life altering. They make a child feel valued and eager to excel—a caring, “cool” adult noticed him or her! When this happens, the words may be penned in a secret diary, cherished deeply in a heart, becoming a catalyst for future success. Hats off to the amazing organizations that provide mentoring programs within our communities.
“Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person. Mentors are those special people in our lives who, through their deeds and their work, help us move toward fulfilling our potential.” (Shea 1997)
A good mentor will always:
- respect the person’s dignity and worth.
- work towards the best interest of the mentee, not their own.
- avoid the temptation to force your help on anyone.
- avoid manipulation and guilt techniques.
- Establish early on with the mentee the skills and lessons to be learned.
- never exploit trust or dependency.
- share the bounds of confidentiality at the outset. Keep information confidential unless the person’s welfare is at stake.
- terminate the relationship if feelings of attraction begin in either party.
If you are a mentor, or you oversee a mentoring program, we would encourage you to regularly assess how much one-on-one time is spent with each student under your care, the risks associated with the mentoring and means of reducing the risk of harm and abuse.
Take all precautions for safety and protection for yourself and for the young people in your care. We would encourage organization offering or considering offering a mentoring program, to discuss the risks with your insurance company to ensure that coverage will be in place.
All mentors should be screened and trained under Plan to Protect®. We would also encourage you to identify mentoring as a high-risk activity and establish specific policies for this activity with additional checks and balances for accountability and identifying what the parameters will be for mentoring.
In 2015, gender is less of an issue than it may have been in the past. Most often mentors will be matched based on their gender. However, the same protection precautions need to be taken whether you are mentoring a male or female. Avoid isolation, including driving alone with a mentee in a vehicle and spending time together in locations where you are alone. Locations that we discourage Mentors to take students alone include their homes, shopping malls, amusement centers, and parks. Ideal locations for mentoring include coffee shops, burger restaurants, the student’s home when parents are present, school and organization events.
When mentoring additional efforts need to be made for safety and ensuring accountability.
Most parents are honored and pleased to have you invest in the lives of their children. Deb taught me so much relationally, emotionally and spiritually. She taught me how to be selective in choosing friends, how to take a stand against peer pressure, find a good spouse, study skills, and even how to pray. Today Deb continues to celebrate with me from afar. Forty years later she assures me she is still only a phone call away!
We are all links in the chain in the young person’s life and development. We can all make such a significant difference for good.