By: Deborah Barge, Chief Development Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Each January, National Mentoring Month celebrates the people who guide our paths, support our journeys, inspire our next steps: mentors. As you think about your own journey, who was the person — or people — who shined a light upon your path at a time you needed it most? Have you ever told them what a difference they made?
One of my first mentors was a friend of my parents. He saw more promise in me than I, at that time, saw in myself — a young brown girl from a rural community. He didn’t know what my future would hold, but he believed that I could and should go to college, and not just any college, but a leading private college two states away. He proactively reached out to a Dean of the school to make a recommendation and connection for me. This was all unprovoked — he just knew I deserved a chance.
Big Brother, Jonathan, and Little Brother, Trevon, embody the importance mentorship and youth empowerment.
I ran into him again recently, and after the quick hug and how are you, I said, “Last week at work, we did an activity where we were asked to think about a mentor who was there for us at a pivotal moment in our lives, and you were the first person who came to mind. Your support of me in high school to take my next step to college meant the world to me.”
I was clearly moved and a little teary as I shared this rambling statement, but so was he. Later he came back around and just hugged me and said how much he appreciated me and my words.
Have you ever thought about how your mentor would feel if you told them what an impact they made? Better yet, let’s flip that question: how would you feel to tell someone the ways in which they positively impacted your life? Have you ever thought about how that feeling could lead you to becoming a mentor yourself?
I’m reminded of a feel-good quote from the feel-good show, Ted Lasso. “A good mentor hopes you will move on. A great mentor knows you will.”
This month, Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates National Mentoring Month and needs your help. Over 30,000 kids are waiting for a mentor to be matched with them. Will you be that person? Consider becoming a Big at bbbs.org and see how you can impact the life of a young person.
But don’t let this month end without celebrating the people who made a difference for you. January 27 is Thank Your Mentor Day. Join us in thanking your mentor and sharing how important mentorship is. Post a thank you, send that email, make that call — just say thank you! Share how it felt by tagging #BiggerTogether — because we all need someone to help us along on our journey.
Read more from Big Brothers Big Sisters about the importance of mentorship: How BBBSA Builds Strong Connections and How Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Model Stands the Test of Time.
About the Author
Chief Development Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America