Mentoring Madness Part II

Saturday Mornings: Trading in my Newspaper and Netflix ritual for a… Notebook?
So, this past three weekends, I (willingly) rose at 7:30 am, got myself to the campus of beautiful Centenary College, and was alert and ready to learn from 9am-1pm.
“But you already have a bachelor’s degree,” some would query (including, occasionally, my own psyche). “What would necessitate such a venture?”
Why will I find myself, on a weekend morning, in a classroom on the Centenary campus, notebook open and pen in hand?
The answer is, simply, that I will be learning something my undergraduate coursework did not teach me. I am learning how to be a mentor.
The truth is, I (naively) thought I already knew how to do this. But thanks to the informative, inspiring and eye-opening training course myself and the other AmeriCorps members from Pass it Along are enrolled in this month, I am learning that I in fact did not know what it actually took to be an effective mentor. As it turns out, there is quite a bit more involved in running, participating in, and supervising an effective mentoring program than often meets the eye.
Without giving too much of the training away, I will say that it is a more complicated process than just selecting an area of service, setting up a club or a program at a school or other organization, and sending volunteers out there “to mentor.” There should be trainings involved. There are more parts to the mentoring relationship than just a mentor and a mentee. There are limitless opportunities to make a difference. There’s a lot of responsibilities involved, but in turn, effective mentoring holds potentially tremendous rewards…not only for the mentee, but also for the mentor.  There’s also the tremendous satisfaction a mentor can glean by building and maintaining a well-planned and positive mentoring relationship.
I could go on, but really, you should just come out and see for yourself what a great program this is. The good people over at United Way of Northern NJ are putting on more of these trainings throughout the year, so get on over to their website (http://www.unitedwaynnj.org/volunteer/becomeamentor.php), check out the options, peruse the calendar, and get out there.
Oh, and did I mention that this training is free? Seriously. All you need to commit is your time, effort, and open mind. It is well worth your Saturday morning, or whatever time you choose to attend. Besides making a difference for other people, mentoring is also a way for you to enrich yourself. In the words of the United Way website we linked to earlier, “Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
-Maren Morsch, AmeriCorps Program Associate
Click here to see our mentoring opportunities

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