MENTOR Virginia, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to quality youth mentoring relationships, is teaming up with 11 different mentoring programs in Central Virginia to virtually host a “Back to School Mentor Open House” this fall. The open house is an opportunity for adults 18+ to learn more about becoming a mentor to a young person at a school near them. Our goal is to help match volunteer mentors with the more than 500 youth who are currently on waiting lists this school year.
The Back to School Mentor Open House will be held virtually on September 27, 2022 starting at 6 pm. Interested community members will have the opportunity to learn more about each of the 11 mentoring programs at the event, and have the chance to sign up for the one that is best fit for their interests, geography, and schedules. Participants will learn about opportunities to mentor youth in one-to-one as well as group settings, with options for in-person and virtual mentoring.
The 11 programs that will be participating in the event include AMP! Metro Richmond, Big Brothers Big Sisters, CricketTogether, Girls2Women-VA, Girls for a Change, Girls on the Run Greater Richmond, Henrico HEROES, Higher Achievement, MEGA Mentors, Partnership for the Future, and the Take 5 Mentoring Program at Petersburg City Public Schools. Community members who attend this event will find opportunities to become a mentor to a youth at schools in Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, and Prince George counties as well as Petersburg and Richmond cities.
“Young people have been through a lot over the past two years, and our educators and families need help to address the academic, social-emotional, and mental health challenges that our youth are facing this new school year,” said Sarah Wilkinson, the Director of Programs at MENTOR Virginia. “The need for volunteer mentors in our schools has never been greater. We need caring adults to answer the call and sign up to mentor a youth.”
Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and supports and affirms their identities and goals. Youth who have a mentor are more likely to enroll in college, to volunteer in their communities, and to avoid risky behaviors that could disrupt their future aspirations.
Why Have a Special Program?
The need to host a mentor open house became apparent through conversations with MENTOR Virginia’s community of practice group for school-based mentoring professionals. Four member organizations of that group are helping to plan and host the event in the hopes that they can recruit more mentors for their programs. These collaborating partners include AMP! Metro Richmond, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls2Women-VA, and Henrico HEROES.
“School personnel are overwhelmed and one of the solutions is to bring more caring adults into schools who can provide an additional layer of support to youth who need it most,” said Leslie Velez, the K-12 Intervention Specialist at Henrico County Public Schools. “We have over 50 students waiting to be matched with a mentor right now. We need more community members to become mentors, because we see the difference that mentors make for our students every day.”
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The Back to School Mentor Open House is open and free to all adults who may be interested in becoming a mentor to a youth in Central Virginia. To register for this event go here. For more information on the event and 11 participating mentoring programs, visit MENTOR Virginia’s website.