Aunt Janice the Mentor

Whenever I mention my work as a Mentor Program Coordinator, someone ends up telling me about the positive experiences they have had with their own mentor. They credit the mentor for giving them the encouragement to pursue higher education or apply for an employment opportunity.

It pleases me to see the topic of mentoring being discussed so widely these days. Even LinkedIn is jumping into mentoring, giving its member opportunities to find mentors within its vast professional network. Mentoring programs are springing up all over.

Over the years, I have had great mentors. One of my mentors, Fred, who was the subject of my last blog post, was instrumental in me getting my book published. He was my editor when I was writing a blog for his publication, the New York Nonprofit Press E-Newsletter. Fred had published his own book and that motivated me to stop procrastinating and write my own. Sadly, Fred did not live long enough to write more books as he had planned. He also did not see my book published. Fred would have been thrilled.

In 2012, when my sister-in-law died from breast cancer, I got serious about doing more mentoring work. I started my own small mentoring project with three women who were former junior colleagues. The project continued until December 2016. Because I was juggling multiple activities and recovering from illness, I decided to slow my mentoring work down.

A few months ago, I was thinking about my nieces and how fast they were growing up. One is 14 and the other is 11. My youngest niece lost her mom to breast cancer when she was five. We have a great relationship and I enjoy the time I spend with them. I do Halloween and Christmas parties and they live for these events!

I realize and accept the influence that I have upon them, though they see me only a few times a month. I am not just an Aunt who throws parties, gives gifts, takes them on outings to bookstores and museums, buys ice pops during the summer and buys bubble gum for them all year long. I encourage them to do well in school, attend events when invited, talk to them about their career goals, and share life lessons where I can. I am Aunt Janice the Mentor.

My oldest niece is very ambitious and industrious, so I give her occasional projects to do for me and I pay her. I want her to learn the value and satisfaction of working and of managing her finances. I reinforce all of the important messages she is receiving from her mother.

I am Aunt Janice the Mentor. I am their experienced and trusted adviser, and take that role very seriously. I will share my mistakes, successes, and will make myself available to offer them the encouragement they need as they grow into young womanhood and beyond.

Everyone needs a good mentor.

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