Mentoring is a Great Way to Give Back

Posted on November 3, 2011. Filed under: Volunteering is Hot! | Tags: |

School is in full swing, which reminds us to consider our community’s youth. What role do you play when it comes to the younger population in your neighborhood? Do you ever pause a moment to watch children at play and imagine what it will be like when they are leading our community in the not-so-distant future? Do you take an active, encouraging role when engaging with youth? Or are you more of a quiet, observant bystander?

According to Oregon Mentors—a nonprofit that supports nearly 100 youth mentoring programs across the state—165,000 youth in Oregon need mentors. Mentoring is a simple, yet powerful experience that helps to foster a positive relationship between an adult and a young person.

The Mid-Willamette Valley offers numerous mentoring options: Mid Valley Mentors provides mentoring opportunities for youth and adults who are affected by incarceration. Volunteers can mentor a child whose parent is incarcerated; or a youth who is under supervision through the juvenile justice system. Marion County New Solutions offers mentoring opportunities for youth who are living with mental health issues.

Local schools also offer mentoring options: Highland Elementary and Judson Middle Schools have requests for mentors posted on the HandsOn database. Other schools also have mentoring needs.

For those interested in mentoring, but uncertain about how to build a relationship with a younger person, the HandsOn Network recently offered up nine easy tips:

· Be patient. A mentoring relationship takes time and is an adjustment for both the mentor and the mentee.

· Praise is important. Be positive and sincere in your praise.

· Set boundaries. Mentors play an important role in a mentee’s life, but they are not meant to replace family or social service professionals.

· Try to understand the mentee’s point of view. Your might not share the same viewpoint, but trying to appreciate their opinion shows you care.

· Celebrate differences. Broaden both your horizons.

· Be honest. Everyone makes mistakes. Admit it when you make one and teach your mentee a valuable skill.

· Be there. You can’t fix everything, but listening can go a long way.

· Be positive. Allow for a few “growing” mistakes and help your mentee learn from them.

· Believe. Your faith in a mentee can be the greatest gift you offer.

To find out more about local mentoring options visit:

Melissa Gibler is the program director for HandsOn Mid-Willamette Valley—an initiative of the United Way. She can be reached at (877) 372-4141, or


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