All Around The World It’s The Same Song: Starting A Mentoring Program in South Africa, Same Challenges…Same Rewards

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Karen & Haley’s First Mentoring Sessions in South Africa!

SA NoteWhen I started reading this email message I received from Karen Nelson, I was astounded.  I work hard to share content and ideas that people find useful and engaging here on “KellyFairTheMentor.”  And, it was so rewarding and surprising to get a note from someone who was reading our blog, and who found me all the way in South Africa! Karen and her friend Hayley have partnered to begin establishing a mentoring program in their community in South Africa.  They’re in the very early stages of developing and implementing their pilot program, but they’ve done a whole lot of research, identified partners in the community,  and have been working on building their curriculum.

As I began communicating with and coaching Karen and Hayley, I found that it was so awesome that there were so many similarities between their story, and the stories of many other women that I meet and work with who are passionate about establishing their own mentoring initiatives, and giving back to their communities.  Karen and her partner Hayley have known each other for 15 years, having met while working as attorneys. Their careers took them along different paths and for the past 8 years Karen has mainly focused on her family ( 4 kids) and community work. Hayley moved into HR and has worked mainly for ad agencies.  Approximately 18 months ago, they realized that they shared the same passion to work with young ladies from disadvantaged communities.  Their vision for the program has gone through several metamorphoses and what started off as a finishing school concept has become more of a mentoring program with 3 components: 1. mentoring, with personal growth and the acquisition of a  few hard skills as its emphasis (in-house); 2. accredited skills development training (out-sourced); 3. job shadows/internships (corporations).
Sound familiar?  For me it did, It sounded very much like my own story as I began taking my first action steps in starting Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program four years ago.  And their story sounded very similar to many of you in the mentoring community who are taking that leap into saying yes to the power of mentoring, and developing the mission and structure of your mentoring efforts with family, friends, and colleagues.  We have all done the analysis to determine the core needs of our youth,  and doing the planning to establish the programming to meet those needs.  In regards to recruiting volunteers, Karen and Haley have been targeting women from their own personal networks and older women in the communities that they plan on serving.  Sounds like a strategy many of us in youth and mentoring work here in the states have also implemented in our own communities.
Additionally, I also found it fascinating when Karen and Haley shared the challenges that girls were facing in their communities how they were almost identical to those of girls that we serve here in many of America’s inner cities:
  • teenage pregnancies
  • impact of gangsterism
  • dysfunctional homes
  • alcoholism and drug abuse
  • sub-standard levels of education

Karen and Haley were hesitant when I asked that they share pictures, because they felt they were too early on in establishing their mentoring program, and didn’t have the slick marketing material to properly present themselves.   But, I’m so thankful that they obliged, because there’s so much beauty and power in sharing these pictures, and their story of how they’re getting started.  It’s encouraging, because sometimes just getting started is actually the hardest part with running a mentoring program.  And, the learning and innovation in developing your program never stops.  I wanted to share their story because we’ve may have been where they are now, may currently be at this stage, or encouraged to move forward by the great amount of progress these two have already made.

I think we often mistakenly think that life on the other side of the globe has to be so starkly different than our own.  When I think about it, I’m reminded of the chorus from a song from the 90’s  from the rap group, Digital Underground.  The lyrics from the song accurately and wisely stated, “all around the world it’s the same song.”  And, it’s the same song when it comes to youth mentoring too, the same challenges, the same rewards, and the same experiences no matter where in the world we may be serving.  But, we all will continue to grow in our individual efforts, and our efforts as a GLOBAL mentoring community when we share the good, the bad, and the ugly of our growth process.  When one is successful and shares their knowledge then we all succeed.  Please enjoy the pictures of Karen, Haley, their volunteers, and mentees at their first sessions below!  I hope it serves as an inspiration.  Somebody else I know started off with two girls at their first mentoring session, and her name is KellyFairTheMentor!

Interested in receiving coaching from KellyFairTheMentor in your community or school mentoring efforts?  KellyFairTheMentor will be hosting a webinar in upcoming months.  What topic would you like to see discussed?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Let’s Keep Sharing!
Kelly
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Dear Kelly, “Should I Start Small?”

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Thanks for having lunch today with me, KellyFairTheMentor!  Happy National Mentoring Month 2014!  What better way to end the month, but by assisting individuals who are eager to grow their efforts in mentoring youth!

Here’s my response to a question from Coretta Jackson in Bloomington, IL

“I am in the beginning stages of developing a NFP youth organization in Bloomington Normal. I lucked up and received wonderful feedback from several adults in the community with the similar vision that I have for the kids here. In total, there will be 7 of us (6 women and 1 man) launching the program. Each of us have a special niche that we can bring to the table. We would like to target Junior High and High School aged youth, but don’t want to turn down any children for the program because we plan to offer so much. Do you think it is far fetched to have divisions of the program (i.e. Young Men’s Division, College Bound Division, Health Division, etc)?  Should we start small and watch for growth or just go for the gusto and utilize all of our individual skills, talents and networking abilities to serve the youth of Bloomington Normal fairly??”

Dear Kelly, How Do You Find Time For Marketing “KellyFairTheMentor”?

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Thanks for having lunch today with me, KellyFairTheMentor!  Happy National Mentoring Month 2014!  What better way to end the month, but by assisting individuals who are eager to grow their efforts in mentoring youth!

Here’s my response to a question from Kevin Brigance in Texas.  His question was ” How did you find time for your marketing and packaging of KellyFairTheMentor?”

 

Dear Kelly, What Makes A Great Mentor?

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Thanks for having lunch today with me, KellyFairTheMentor!  Happy National Mentoring Month 2014!  What better way to end the month, but by assisting individuals who are eager to grow their efforts in mentoring youth!

Here’s my response to a question from Latisha White in Chicago.  “Is there any preparation required before becoming a mentor?  Also, what traits (character/personality) would you say define a good mentor?”

Kelly, How Do I Start A Nonprofit?

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Thanks for having lunch today with me, KellyFairTheMentor!  Happy National Mentoring Month 2014!  What better way to end the month, but by assisting individuals who are eager to grow their efforts in mentoring youth!

Here’s my response to a question from Kesha Chatman in Chicago.  Kesha’s question was “What are the best starter steps to take for creating a non-for-profit organization, to be located in the western suburbs of Chicago ? I am completely stepping out on faith with a God given vision, without financing”

Have Lunch with Me Today!, 12 p.m. CST

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Today, Thursday, Jan.30, I’m  hosting a live lunchtime chat on my Facebook page.  What a better way to end National Mentoring Month, than to ask me all of your mentoring and non-profit questions, and receive advice from a trained and true mentor!
Don’t miss out on this helpful & free opportunity!
If you can’t make the lunchtime chat, be sure to check back here next Thursday for a recap on what you missed!

 

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Had a Mr. Miyagi Moment With This Mentoring Success Story!

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Girls in our Polished Pebbles Mentoring Program here in Chicago (www.polishedpebbles.com) build relationships  over time during sessions held directly in their own schools or communities that help to positively affect their lives.  These relationships are with our staff, community volunteers, volunteers from our partnering businesses, and improved relationships with their school faculty and administration.

An example of just one of the many success stories of Polished Pebbles is Pertesha. After joining Polished Pebbles, Pertesha made many personal improvements that helped change her life from when she was in high school to where she is now.

A Polished Pebbles’ alumna, Pertesha sat down with me to discuss how being in Polished Pebbles and involved in programs such as the Bloomingdale’s Brown Bag Apprenticeship Program impacted her life.

I was so proud of her work and progress I felt like Mr. Miyagi watching over Danielson in the Karate Kid!  WATCH THE VIDEO BY CLICKING HERE:  Success Story Video.

 

In the spirit of National Mentoring Month, please share this positive story and let’s see it go viral!

I thank you for loving our girls, and your continued support!

Kelly

KellyFairTheMentor

 

Too Few Men Leads to Youth Violence, University of Michigan Study Finds

A University of Michigan study indicates that youth violence escalates when too few men are present in neighborhoods.  I think we often associate the need for a male presence in mentoring for boys specifically.  But, our girls are growing up in the same communities, and just in need of positive male influences.  With our mentoring program in Chicago, Polished Pebbles, we hold Men’s Month every year to provide opportunities for our girls to interact with strong men from our networks.  We hold open forums and a Daddy Daughter Dance in February.  If you know of any other community-minded men who are interested in helping the youth and would also like to participate, please feel free to contact ahahn@my.alder.edu with their information.   Click here to read the story: READ THE ARTICLE

Bystanders look on as demonstrators march from a memorial for Kimani "Kiki" Gray on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. The 16-year-old was shot to death on a Brooklyn street last Saturday night by plainclothes police officers who claim the youth pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, while the family says Gray was unarmed. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) John Minchillo, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bystanders look on as demonstrators march from a memorial for Kimani “Kiki” Gray on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. The 16-year-old was shot to death on a Brooklyn street last Saturday night by plainclothes police officers who claim the youth pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, while the family says Gray was unarmed. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

 

Dear KellyFairTheMentor: How Do I Recruit More Volunteers?

Check out my answer to my first “Dear KellyFairTheMentor Letter”. The letter is from Chrystal “Coco” Irving, founder of  P.R.E.T.T.Y Misses Girls Mentoring Program in Memphis, TN.  Chrystal wants tips for increasing volunteer involvement.

 

If you have any questions, or need advice with some aspect of growing your mentoring program feel free to leave comments below, and email me at kellyfairthementor@gmail.com!
Happy National Mentoring Month!

Kelly

KellyFairTheMentor