Comments from the Mentor Meeting March 24, 2012Posted by starswatcher in Mentors, STARS.
Tags: Job Corps, mentor, STARS, volunteer, Woodland Job Corps
As part of the recent Mentors’ Bi-Annual Meeting (March 3rd), we spent time focusing on several of the main challenges which the STARS program is facing today. For a time, the group was broken-out into two groups– the male mentors in one room; the female mentors in another– to facilitate discussion of matters which are perhaps unique to the mentoring of male and female students, respectively.
The men’s discussion centered on the “shortage” of male mentors. The simple fact is that today we have several male students who have requested a mentor, but we are unable to meet those requests because we do not have a volunteer to assign to each student. (Each of the gents who are already in the program– for whom we are super-thankful!– is already assigned to a mentee, and so are unavailable to take on any of these “wait listed” students.
The direct solution to this problem is to find ways of attracting (and retaining!) men to volunteer for the STARS program. So the participants in the male mentors breakout spent time analyzing the root causes (i.e. obstacles to recruitment of male mentors).
The group’s main conclusion is that there is a general misconception out there concerning the “qualifications” that one must meet in order to be a good– or even acceptable– mentor. Based on numerous attempted “recruiting” conversations which these men have had (e.g. with friends, work colleagues, neighbors, etc), it appears that a large share of the population feels that they lack enough experience and/or the qualities of “sainthood” (as one put it) to be a good mentor. The position of these (our current STARS) men is that if a man has simply lived life for awhile– in all its varied complexity– then that more than “checks the block” in terms of Experience. And as for “sainthood,” well… this group feels that’s a cop-out; NOBODY expects a mentor (male or female) to be anything other than a fellow traveler on the journey of Life– with all of the successes, failures, mistakes, and wins that come along with it.
It would be great to hear from some other “STARS Watchers” any thoughts you have on these conclusions– as well as any further observations on the topic of recruiting mentors. Clearly, we need to find ways to overcome these baseless objections and to help dispel the notion that one must be “a Life Expert” to be mentor. That done, it’s believed that many more men will come into the program in this badly-needed area.
Any thoughts you may have would be most welcome! Thanks!