When people talk about mentoring, the discussion often focuses on the young people being served. But mentors will tell you that they also get something from these special relationships. Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) shared her mentoring story with us.
“In Florida, I loved working with a young lady named Shakira. I started with her in the fourth grade and stayed with her for several years as her mentor. For an hour each week in the library, we would pore over math problems together, work on homework and prepare for tests, or simply talk about what was happening in school and in life.
“That hour with Shakira was one of the highlights of my week. And we became great buddies.
“In fact, on one visit to the White House on Valentine's Day, I delivered a handmade valentine from Shakira directly to President George W. Bush in the Oval Office – a valentine he signed and returned to her.
“To this day, I still hold dear a photo of the President with Shakira's valentine. It's a reminder of what a privilege it was to be part of her life, and to see her grow as a student and young lady over the years.
“There are millions of other children and young people who can benefit from the extra time, attention, and support of a caring mentor. President Obama has encouraged all Americans to spend time as a mentor. As he so eloquently put it, mentoring is a way to ‘help lift our next generation toward their hopes and dreams.'
“And I can assure you, based on my experience with Shakira, that as a mentor you get just as much as you give.”
January is National Mentoring Month, and Americans are encouraged to discover how mentoring can change lives and to thank those who have mentored them along the way. The Corporation for National and Community Service joins the Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to spearhead this annual effort.
Later this week, the National Mentoring Summit will take place in Washington, DC, drawing attendees from across the nation to share innovative program models, examine new research, and enhance the mentoring opportunities for young people. During the event, Spencer will launch the 2013 Corporate Mentoring Challenge that encourages companies to create or expand their mentoring opportunities or sponsor local programs.
To learn more about mentoring or how to get involved in your community, visit our Mentoring page.
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