This guest post is courtesy of Bo Nicholson, program coordinator at South Boston T.E.A.M. Bo answered some questions from Mass Mentoring regarding her program and its National Mentoring Month events.
- What is your role at the organization? Please give us some information about your program.
- Why mentoring is important?
- What did your program do to celebrate National Mentoring Month?
- What was the outcome of the event?
- What was the overall response to the event?
- Did you do anything else for National Mentoring Month?
- How can people get in touch with your program for additional information?
My name is Bo Nicholson, and I have been the program coordinator of the T.E.A.M. program since August 2010. I am involved in the recruitment, screening, and training of our program’s participants, and I also provide ongoing match support and case management to families as they need it. T.E.A.M., Together Engaging Adolescents through Mentoring, is a one-to-one, community-based mentoring program that pairs youth from South Boston with caring, energetic adults who serve as supports, friends and guides. Our mentors are adults (22-years-old and over) from all over the Greater Boston area who represent a wide variety of fields, talents and interests, and who make a decision to partner with a young person who could use a friend.
Growing up on Cape Cod, I had the opportunity to blossom among a close-knit community of trusted adults, including family members, coaches, friends’ parents, and teachers. The time that each spent with me had a profound impact on my development, and enabled me to understand first hand the importance of having caring adults guide me throughout my life. While the young people in the T.E.A.M. program don’t always say it out loud, we know from watching them grow, hearing stories from their family members, and reading their responses to evaluations that the memories that they share with their mentors are lifelong, and the value of the time spent together is immeasurable. Mentoring is important because it is a powerful tool to help remind young people that they are valued by adults around them, and that they, in turn, should value themselves.
On Jan. 11, T.E.A.M. held a top-secret nomination party for mentees to nominate their mentors for our first “Mentor of the Year” award. This event was a way for our mentees to reflect on what their mentors mean to them, as well as give their mentors a chance to hear directly about some of the ways in which their commitment has impacted the lives of the youth they care so much about. Youth were asked to respond to the question, “what is one way that your mentor has made a positive difference in your life, and why should s/he win the title of Mentor of the Year’?” Each mentee then sat, reflected, and wrote about how much their mentor means to them and why s/he has earned this honorable title. The winning mentee, Marwa (age 14), and her mentor, Brittany, will enjoy a free dinner at one of the most elegant restaurants in the city – Top of the Hub!
Additionally, this year the T.E.A.M. program chose to celebrate our mentors during a special “Mentor Appreciation Night” on Jan.19, following Youth Mentoring Day at the State House. As a way to let them know how much their efforts and time are appreciated by not only their specific mentee, but also by our program and the entire South Boston community, we treated our mentors to a night out at Felt Lounge in Boston. We had almost an entire floor to ourselves, and we spent the night sharing drinks, munching on appetizers, connecting with friends, playing pool, and sharing stories about the amazing mentoring relationships that have unfolded. It was a great night, attended by not only new and veteran T.E.A.M mentors, but friends alike who were interested in learning more about becoming a mentor. The evening concluded with a short heartwarming speech about the enormous impact our mentors make in the lives of their mentees, as well as the distribution of small gift bags as tokens of our gratitude.
Both of T.E.A.M.’s events were deemed a large success by staff and program participants alike. Mentor Appreciation Night 2012 marked an 80% increase in attendance from Mentor Appreciation Night 2011, and mentors reported having a great time! T.E.A.M. mentees also reported thoroughly enjoying their essay writing and games at the nomination party, and attendance outcomes for the party were 80% successfully reached (some youth were unable to attend the party due to the fact that the event was held before the time that they arrive home from their respective schools).
T.E.A.M. mentors were especially appreciative of the event, and were happy to have the opportunity to learn from each other, as well as just hang out and have fun! One mentor summed up her positive experience at the event well:
It was nice seeing you and Emily again, and some mentors with their friends last night. It was wonderful and very informative talking with Tony about his experience mentoring his teen, and Katrina about her experience as well. They gave me some great insights about what it is like to mentor a child or teen. I am looking forward to my training and being matched up with one of the youth, as we discussed last night. With great hope that I can be good match and be a good mentor in your T.E.A.M program.
Again, thank you for the invitation.”
-Eleanor, one of the newest incoming mentors to the T.E.A.M. program.
T.E.A.M. staff also participated in Youth Mentoring Day at the State House, the Youth Mentoring Forum, and met with legislators to discuss how mentoring has directly impacted the South Boston Community. T.E.A.M. also sent a National Mentoring Month celebratory email to program participants and Catholic Charities staff in which the results of the mid year evaluation and the winner of the “Mentor of the Year” award were formally announced.
Prospective mentors can feel free to visit our website to learn more about T.E.A.M. and fill out an application at: http://www.ccab.org/youthteam.html. They can also feel free to direct questions to the myself, Bo-Stacey Nicholson, at
(617) 464 – 8578.