Friday, January 29, 2016

Redefining Role Model

By Lynne Algrant, CEO 

On a blustery, wet Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I walked into the warmest room in Bergen County.  The Iron Horse Restaurant in Westwood opened early to host the Bergen Mentors brunch, our annual thank you to the wonderful people who serve as mentors to some of Bergen County’s most vulnerable kids.

Some mentors knew each other well. Some were just meeting for the first time. But all knew they were among special friends and good advisors. “How do you get them to put down their devices long enough to have a conversation?” was a question eagerly asked of experienced mentors of teens.  “Let me show you a picture of my mentee,” was proudly exclaimed.

We were delighted to honor Ruth Schneider, who has served as an active mentor for 25 years.  There are 8 young people in the world, whom Ruth has nurtured, and encouraged—8 people who knew they were special because of Ruth—even if life circumstances had led them to believe otherwise.  And even though Ruth is in her 80’s, she was delighted to renew her commitment and start mentoring a 5 year old.

At a time when the words “role model,” are too often applied to people because they are famous or rich—Ruth and the other Mentors—remind us of who a role model really is: a friend, an advisor, a consistent, trusted presence for a child who might otherwise not have one.

Here at the Bergen Volunteer Center, we are proud to find wonderful people like Ruth, train them to be a mentor, and support them as they change the life of a child.

We are Redefining Volunteerism and Redefining Role Model

And as Ruth demonstrates—age is just a number.  So in 2016—the 50th Anniversary of the Bergen Volunteer Center, we are proud to declare that we aren’t getting old; we are just getting started.

To learn more about becoming a mentor, click here.

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