January is National Mentoring Month

Use the month of January as a time to celebrate mentoring relationships and build awareness about the need for more volunteers to make a difference in the lives of youth.

Since 2002, January has been celebrated as National Mentoring Month. Now is a great time to learn more about mentoring. If you are already a supporter of mentoring, it is the perfect time to share your experiences and encourage others to become a mentor. Everyone can get involved; here are some ideas.

  1. Choose to mentor. Find a program near you and volunteer one to two hours a week spending time with a young person. A few hours a week is all it takes!
  2. Thank the mentors in your life – past and present. Send a thank you card, post a tribute, email, call, visit or send a small gift. Letting someone know they made a difference will make them feel great, and you will feel pretty good as well.
  3. Learn more about mentoring. As you watch the videos, think about how you can get involved.
  4. Sponsor a mentoring activity or make a donation to a program. Mentoring programs are always seeking free and no cost activities for their matches. If you have tickets to a game or concert you cannot attend, consider donating them to a mentor and mentee. Small gift cards for restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and other recreational businesses are greatly appreciated.
  5. Use social networking to spread the word. The best mentor recruiters are current mentors; sharing your story is powerful. Many people are reluctant to get involved because they don’t know where to go and what is involved. Others think that mentors have to be perfect. When people are invited to get involved and comfortable asking questions, they are more likely to become a mentor.
  6. Share your talent with a mentoring program. Mentoring is a big commitment and it isn’t for everyone. If it isn’t for you, do you have another skill you could share? Programs like Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards are always looking for individuals who work in STEAM professions to share their knowledge with matches. Programs can often use support from tech savvy individuals who can assist with webpage design and management and social networking presence. If you are a writer, perhaps you could assist with a newsletter. Most mentoring programs would be happy to welcome a volunteer who can assist with other program needs.

For additional ideas and resources for programs, check out the National Mentoring Month 2016 Toolkit. Happy Mentoring Month from Michigan 4-H Youth Mentoring and Michigan State University Extension!

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