The Mentoring 365 Project: Celebrating Mentoring All Year Long

February 11, 2015

The Mentoring 365 ProjectNational Mentoring Month (NMM) occurs annually every January. It is a time when we celebrate and congratulate all mentors for their continued dedication to mentoring our youth. However, just because NMM ended last month doesn’t mean we here at The Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota intend to wait another  year to celebrate the successes of mentors, their mentees, and mentoring programs. With that in mind, MPM is excited to present The Mentoring 365 Project, a series focused on highlighting positive and inspiring mentoring stories from across the state of Minnesota.

First up in the series are Matt and Jason, a pair matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota.

“I guess [mentoring] has also changed my whole view towards volunteering in general. When I first started with Big Brothers Big Sisters I thought it was going to be a giant commitment that would be very difficult to keep. I thought I was going to have to carve out a big chunk of my life and it turned out the time I spent with Jason is time I wouldn’t spend [doing anything] anyway . I guess it doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing. Just making that realization was one big eye-opener.”

Matt, Big Brother

Matt, a teacher, and Jason, a high school junior, have been matched together for over eight years. During the course of my conversation with the pair, their chemistry was apparent, illuminating a relationship built upon mutual respect and trust. “You can really talk to him about anything,” says Jason of his mentor.

Matt first became involved with mentoring after attending a workplace presentation by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. He had considered becoming a mentor in the past because he not only wished to become more involved in his community but also because of his own personal history with mentors. Matt was fortunate to have had a number of mentors during the course of his youth, naming his father as his most important and influential mentor. Because his father had such a positive influence on his life, Matt wanted to provide a similar experience for a young person. Jason would turn out to be the best match to benefit from Matt’s personal history.

“[W]e were matched in elementary school, and I don’t have a father figure. I kind of see Matt as a father figure/brother/role model.”

— Jason, Little Brother

Jason notices how much he has benefited from the relationship. In Matt, Jason feels he has gained not only father figure, a role which Matt has happily embraced, but also a life-long friend. “He’s kind of a laid-back, cool guy,” Jason shares. “Anything I need help with I can ask him and if I have a problem I can bring it to him.” The pair are currently working together to decide on Jason ‘s best options post-graduation; attending college or enrolling in a technical school program. Matt is proud he has been asked to be involved with this process, especially because of how important he knows this decision is to Jason. Just as Matt “paid it forward” because of his positive mentoring experience, Jason says he wants to follow in his mentor’s path and become a mentor, too. What better endorsement can there be for the power of mentoring?