January is National Mentoring Month!

By John C. Gibson, Mentoring CoordinatorLearn about Goodwill-Easter Seals' volunteer mentoring program - and how you can get involved.

January is National Mentoring Month!

2016-01-04 15:46:00

Did you know January is national mentoring month? In the spirit of celebrating the impact of mentoring, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota would like to take a moment to share with the community how its mentoring program serves participants.

Goodwill-Easter Seals offers mentoring to participants in four of our programs, including Construction and Automotive training, the Ramsey County Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) and ReEntry Services. Our training programs provide industry-specific preparation to jump-start a career; MFIP is a work-focused, state assistance program for low-income families with minor children, and our ReEntry Services is a program designed to support individuals with criminal backgrounds as they integrate back into the community and workforce after incarceration.

Mentoring services are voluntary and offered to participants seeking additional guidance and support during their critical transition towards employment and independence.

Volunteer Mentoring at Goodwill-Easter Seals

As a volunteer mentor you’ll attend group mentoring meetings where you have the opportunity to share your personal and professional experience with participants and other volunteer mentors. You’ll also hear participants share their personal stories of hardship and success and how they plan to work towards overcoming barriers to gain Independence. Group mentoring is a unique and powerful experience where both volunteer mentors and participants come together to share and learn from one another.

The Goodwill Easter Seals mentoring program also offers the option to work one-on-one with a participant mentee. This relationship begins with the participant reaching out to mentor coordinators. We then interview the participant and discuss their needs and expectations. The Mentoring Coordinator will then evaluate the pool of mentors to determine who would best meet the needs of that participant. From there we set up a meeting for the mentor and mentee so that they can interview one another. After a successful match the mentor will concentrate on a few key goals that the mentee plans to achieve. The length of this commitment can last anywhere from six to nine months.

Why is mentoring important? Mentoring is a unique concept that benefits individuals who want to strengthen or create a healthy and positive support system. At Goodwill Easter Seals, we believe in a second and even a third chance at life. The mentoring program is a pathway for participants to build relationships with others in the community who will support, encourage and guide them in the direction of their goals. The needs of our participants vary from individuals transitioning their professional careers to those focused on turning their whole life around. A volunteer mentor plays a key role in walking alongside and assisting individuals to help them achieve success and independence.

How to become a volunteer mentor

No matter your background or experience the door is open to all. Whether you have experience in corporate America or have a criminal background and maintain your freedom, you can benefit the lives of the participants we serve.

There are a just few basic steps to becoming a volunteer mentor:

  1. Contact a Mentoring Coordinator for additional information.
  2. fill out a volunteer application.
  3. Meet with a Mentoring Coordinator for an intake interview.
  4. Participate in Mentor Training Part I and Part II.

This experience will not only impact the lives of the participants, it will impact the community that we all share together. Together as a community we are improving the lives one individual at time. This will create a better tomorrow for a lifetime.