Get Motivated to Mentor This Summer!

During the Polished Pebbles Volunteer Orientation a couple of months ago, we asked our volunteers to share their motivation for volunteering. There were a wide range of responses, but one thing that held true was the lasting affect of a supportive mentor relationship!

Watch the video of their testimonials  & get the motivation to give back this summer to  your community!

Guiding College Students in Peer Mentoring!

taylor carr

Taylor Carr, Polished Pebbles Intern


In my latest blog series for JET, “The Freshman Memoirs,” I am featuring current college students, and their share their various experiences throughout their college careers.  We are targeting incoming freshman with these “memoirs”  so that they can learn from the older students’ experiences and get their college careers off to a great start! This week,  I’m focusing on the challenges many students face when trying to obtain financial aid, and I’m  highlighting Taylor’s memoir of how she made her dream of studying at Howard University a reality!

A rising junior at Howard University, Taylor will also be interning with Polished Pebbles this summer!

My Workshop on Blogging to Expand Mentoring!

Tutor mentor institute


On Monday, May 12 The Chicago Community Trust hosted a series of dinners throughout the Chicago region where almost 10,000 people met new people and shared ideas for making the Chicago region a better place for everyone to live, work and raise kids.

Next Monday, May 19, I’ll be hosting a workshop at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference ( This event is part of an on-going strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), launched by Dan Bassill in 1993. Bassill started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975. He started reaching out to peers to gather them for networking events, similar to the OnTheTable2014 events, in 1976.

Dan created the T/MC in 1993 to try to bring people together to network, learn, build trust, share ideas, and to create advertising-type visibility that would draw support to all city and Chicago suburbs. He created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 help the T/MC grow in Chicago and to support the growth of similar intermediaries in other cities.

Over the past few years the idea of “collective effort” or people from many sectors working together to solve a community problem, has gained much visibility in non profit and public circles, fueled by articles on the Stanford Social Innovation Review web site.  This article constantly refers the need bringing people together to solve community problems, and that’s what Dan Bassill has been doing for over 20 years.  In addition to organizing conferences, Dan maintains a web library with links to articles like this and his goal is that people from many sectors dig deeper into this information on an on-going basis so that ideas from many places can be used to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in Chicago area neighborhoods.

As a result of his professional mentoring, Dan has always encouraged me to attend and present in his Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conference to grow my career and skill sets.  In the upcoming conference on May 19th, I will share my experience in developing and implementing my own blog, I’ll discuss how my blog has helped me to expand my reach and resources for growing my mentoring program, Polished Pebbles (, and how I’ve been able to use it as a tool to support the entire mentoring community!

If you’re concerned with the well-being of youth, the future of the workforce, and the social capital in the Chicago region, I encourage you to register and attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference next Monday. Dan and I and others look forward to meeting you.  Register here:

A Mother-Daughter Mentoring Team!


joyce and jileah 2

Celebrating Mother’s Day Through Mentoring!

One of the joys I’ve had since starting Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program has been establishing relationships, and being inspired by so many great people in our community.  One of our first volunteer mentors was Joyce Rogers.  Joyce, is a  Texas native, who has courageously been serving as an educator in the Chicago Public Schools for many years.  It was great to have Joyce join our team, but it was even more powerful that Joyce always brought her daughter, Jileah.  Jileah quickly jumped in and became a junior mentor while working with our younger girls.  Jileah was just in eighth grade when she started mentoring with us, she’s now a graduating senior.  Joyce and Jileah brought strong, loving, and committed energy to our group mentoring team, but also developed a stronger mother-daughter bond at the same time.  So, j0in me in celebrating Mother’s Day by acknowledging this great mother-daughter mentoring team.  Perhaps, we all in the mentoring community can use the Mother’s Day holiday to inspire and recruit other great mother-daughter teams to support our local youth mentoring efforts!

joyce rogers

Meet Joyce, The Mom

When did you start mentoring/volunteering? 2009

What made you want to become a mentor? Being able to work with teenagers and to work with Kelly because I thought she had a wonderful idea to help girls with communication. I thought I could be an asset to her because I love to talk. I had a degree in journalism so that was one thing when you start talking about being a good communicator, I think that’s one element that our girls really need—to be able to express themselves really well. I thought I could help them put their thoughts into writing.

What has been your favorite part of  participating in the mentoring group? The great atmosphere that Kelly has created. Working with the girls and having that cohesiveness among the girls. The positive attitude-I think that has been very beneficial to me and I really love the climate that Kelly has created. I really do. She has created a wonderful climate for the girls to be mentored in a very positive way. There is a positive turnaround with the girls and the mentors too.

How has being a volunteer mentor affected your relationship with your daughter? We get to communicate about relationships, so that has really helped as far of having that aspect of learning how to communicate and being able to be more open and really letting her say what she needs to say more freely. I’ve learned to let the girls say what they need to say without having a judgmental attitude and just being a good listener. I think that has helped our relationship as mother and daughter, listening to her without having judgements, and then we work out together what our next steps are. If you listen you will come to a better resolution for whatever problem that might be.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Spending time with my children. I may even cook dinner.



Meet Jeliah, The Daughter:

What made you want to become a junior mentor?: My mom had talked to me about going, and I decided to attend the meetings with her. I really liked the activities and the message behind it.

What has been your favorite part of  participating in the mentoring group?: The girls–interacting with them, being able to help them. When I go, I’m with the little girls and they always look up to me and latch on to me.

How has being a volunteer mentor affected your relationship with your mom? She starts to see where I’m coming from; she’ll listen more.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day? Just spending time with my mom.

Ingredients For A Great Mentoring Staff!




“Kelly has pushed me to the limits!”

“Being committed, problem solvers, hungry, confident, willing, passionate, great learners, entrepreneurial, communicators, leaders, grounded in faith, walking the walk, seeing ourselves in our girls”…..These were all the ingredients mentioned by my Polished Pebbles staff as we discussed the characteristics that make up a great team member of a youth mentoring program.

Check out the video to hear how our Operations Coordinator, Shannon Page, and Program Facilitator/Coordinator, Brittney Shepherd, share how they’ve grown professionally as staff members. And, soomebody mentioned something about me pushing them to their limits…..who?!?! Little ‘ole me?!? LOL!

“A youth program’s impact is only as strong as the team who put it’s it together!” -KellyFairTheMentor