Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Expand Your Universe. Mentor.

January 2012 marks the eleventh Annual National Mentoring Month.

The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership jointly created National Mentoring Month, and are collaborating with the HandsOn Network, as well as other non profit groups to reach out to Americans to “Expand Your Universe.  Mentor”.

The Volunteer Center of Bergen County, which is the local affiliate of the Hands On Network, has been sponsoring mentoring programs for more than 30 years, and is currently seeking men and women age 18 and up to become volunteer mentors to meet the increasing demand. 

Through our Mentoring Youth program, caring men and women provide guidance, friendship and support to youth age 5-18 who have suffered abuse or neglect.  Currently over 100 girls and boys are waiting to be matched with someone with whom they can develop a positive relationship. There is an especially great need for men to mentor boys.  The next training is in April, call Francine to learn more, 201-489-9454, ext. 111.

Mentoring Moms are women who offer their experience and life lessons to help isolated and overwhelmed mothers of all ages.  The volunteers spend time with mothers who are having difficulty coping with parenting, finances, child discipline, and facing daily challenges. The mentors listen, share ideas and offer encouragement, so that the mothers can learn to cope and, in the process, improve their lives and those of their children.  Training begins on January 30.  Call Susan to register, 201-489-9454, ext. 124.

Free six-week, 15 hour training sessions are provided to mentors in both programs.  During this time, the volunteers take workshops on developing listening skills, communication and problem solving.  Guest speakers such as current mentors and social services case workers share their experiences so that new mentors have the background and knowledge to help support their mentees.  All mentors undergo a comprehensive screening process which includes fingerprinting and other background checks.

Both programs also need Bi-lingual Spanish-English volunteers, and both programs will offer training again in April 2012. 

Janet Sharma, executive director of the Volunteer Center, says, “To be a mentor, you don’t need any special skills,” says Janet Sharma, the Volunteer Center’s executive director.  “You just need to be able to listen and to offer friendship, guidance and encouragement to a child or an overwhelmed mom.  And you’ll be amazed by how much you’ll get out of the experience.  So, share what you know.  Become a mentor.”

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