Mentor A Child, Change The Odds - National Mentoring Month

By nature, human beings are social creatures. Our connection to others is not only instrumental to our very survival but also the key to our emotional wellbeing.

However, there are thousands of children across the country who feel like they are alone.

Kids that don’t have someone who will help them with their homework or play catch with them.

Kids that don’t have someone to rely on, talk or even more simply – kids who don’t have someone who’ll listen.

This is why mentoring matters.

AmTrust Bank branch manager Brian Brinson has three children and one of his favorite activities is to watch his children play. They run around with the neighborhood kids, screaming with laughter and giggling with delight.

Watching his children play is what inspired Brian to get involved.

“I see it in my own neighborhood,” he said. “Some of the kids that play with my kids are from single-parent households. They’re impressionable and need more adults in their lives to serve as positive role models.”

Upon hearing of his interest, AmTrust Bank connected Brian with Millie Ramos, mentoring program coordinator at Community Partners.

A veteran of the organization and passionate mentoring advocate, Millie was thrilled to have him on board.

“An adult mentor serves as a role model and plants seeds of hope,” Millie said. “They help the mentee make positive choices so they’ll reach their full potential.”

As a mentor, Brian engages his nine-year-old mentee in a variety of activities.

“We work on homework together and as he’s bilingual, I also help him out with his English language skills,” Brian said, noting that the pair read the children’s encyclopedia together.

“The sessions are always structured but there’s a lot of engagement,” Brian explained.

In addition to academic skills, Brian and his mentee also get a chance to talk and play together, be it while playing a board game or chasing a soccer ball.

“The great thing about the mentoring sessions is everyone wants to be there. The session is something that both mentor and mentee look forward to and it’s really interactive for both of them,” Brian said.

A staunch advocate of mentoring program, Brian urges all those interested to get involved.

“If you work for a company with a community engagement department, go and see these folks. They’ll be happy to help you out,” he said. “If you don’t, contact schools directly to see if they have a mentoring program. A lot of them focus on younger kids but don’t forget about high schools. Older kids need attention and support too.”

As Community Partners department director Tina McNutt said, “Mentoring isn’t about having all the answers but the ability to show up and listen to the conversation.  I see you, I hear you and you matter – that’s mentoring.”