Mentoring in the time of Corona

A New Approach to Activities

Curious how mentors are adapting to their volunteer roles give the challenges of mentoring in a pandemic? They are certainly getting creative, and finding ways to support their mentees however possible, whether in-person or virtually–or a mix of both, like one of our community-based mentors. When they had to change their regular schedule due to COVID-19, they settled into a routine of talking twice a week. One conversation is based on questions the mentor planned about her mentee’s opinions and perspectives on life–and he has been forthcoming and surprising in his replies. The other is based on the partnerships interests–here’s how she explained it in a check-in earlier this summer with her Partners Program staff member:  

“On Wednesday we decide and talk about what activity he is interested in. The first week I supplied a bag of planting supplies which contained empty cereal boxes to make the pots, seed soil starter, cilantro seeds, etc. I include everything needed to complete the project and call these “activity bags”. He calls me frequently to ask questions or share. He wanted me to watch him plant, and was so proud saying, “This is the first time I’ve ever planted anything!” He is now watering and waiting. He will give me the plants for my garden. He also requested seeds for a plant of mine that he loved last year and is growing those for his front porch. Our second project is making a mask. I put together the material and elastic with pins and he is presently hand sewing the first layers. He has never used a needle and thread, but can show me the problem areas, like how to make a knot. When he completes a project he puts the supplies back on his porch for me to retrieve. We seem to always have several activity bag ideas waiting. I feel like giving him something to do that did not involve a computer best fit his needs.”

Mentoring can be this simple. It’s really about finding a way to connect to a young person that helps them move past the obstacles in their life. Now that Coronavirus is another obstacle, our volunteers are finding ways to continue supporting their mentees and promoting the social connection our youth need now more than ever. Our services are also helping parents and families during this time. The parent of the youth in the partnership above had this to say:  “The partnership is going wonderfully! They are able to still communicate during this time, which is great for my son. It was [his mentor’s] idea to meet twice a week and do these activities, and I’m grateful she brought it up.”

This is just one story out of the hundreds about how the youth in our program are getting the support they need. Make sure to follow us to hear more about the impact of our school-based and community-based mentoring programs this year. 

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