Ready to change a kid’s life? Check out these 8 questions on mentoring

More than 20,000 Pittsburgh kids receive a supportive boost via The Mentoring Partnership every year.

The organization works as a matchmaker between kids and mentors, pairing skills and needs. With inspiration from their mentors, kids can feel cared for and supported.

On Oct. 29, the Mentoring Partnership will celebrate its work with The Magic of Mentoring fundraiser, held every two years. The event will honor Gregg Behr, executive director of the Grable Foundation, with the Thieman Award. The inaugural Ambassador Daniel M. Rooney Champion of Mentoring Award will go to Bob Nelkin, retired president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern PA.

Buy tickets here for an evening at Heinz Field that includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Bid on the silent auction with packages like sports tickets, delicious dining experiences, jewelry – even dinner with Rick Sebak.

Considering becoming a mentor yourself? We spoke with Colleen Fedor, executive director of The Mentoring Partnership, about what you need to know.

1. What sort of person makes a good mentor?

As individuals, we are uniquely equipped with characteristics that can help serve as building blocks to being a great mentor. Mentors must be willing to spend time, be open-minded and have fun! That said, the safety of young people and the success of the relationship require that mentors have the appropriate clearances and receive training and support.

2. How much of a time commitment is expected?

Ideally, mentors would be able to commit to mentoring for a minimum of 1 hour a week for at least a year, but each mentoring program is different in terms of time commitments and requirements.

3. What are the biggest fears of would-be mentors?

It’s very common for mentors to wonder if they will be a good mentor. Some mentors wonder if the young person will like them, will they be relatable, or simply will they be effective. Other fears center around time commitment and qualities to be a good mentor.

4. What if kids don’t think I’m cool enough to be a role model?

Mentoring organizations typically match mentors with mentees based on similar interests, but making a young person feel like they are heard, valued, respected, safe and cared for is always cool!

5. What training is required and what is involved?

 It’s critical that mentors are trained before being matched with a mentee. Pre-match training will help mentors set expectations for the relationship, the skills necessary to support a young person and the understanding of where to seek ongoing education and support through their program and The Mentoring Partnership.

6. What do mentors get out of the relationship?

Mentoring is a two-way relationship so being a mentor is equally beneficial to both the mentor and the mentee.  Mentors can learn new skills or be exposed to new ideas, tap into underutilized abilities, enhance their career and ultimately enjoy the satisfaction of watching a young person grow and develop.

7. What kind of opportunities are available?

There are many mentoring opportunities available right here in our community. Some examples include:

  • Programs focused on reading and literacy (Everybody Wins! America Reads);
  • Those that mentor through sports (First Tee, Open Field, Girls on the Run);
  • Career exploration programs (ASPIRE);
  • Those supporting academic success (Advancing Academics, Be A Middle School Mentor);
  • Community-based experiences (BBBS, Amachi).

Find out about local mentoring opportunities here and click on “Get Involved.”

8. As you became personally involved in mentoring, what surprised you most?

 It was a surprise to me how much I enjoyed transitioning from mostly Everyday Mentoring experiences to a formal mentoring relationship. That personal, intentional, weekly engagement was really rewarding and something that I looked forward to!