International Mentoring Day

January 17 was chosen as the date to celebrate International Mentoring Day, to commemorate the birthday of boxing legend and global humanitarian, Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali lived by six core principles — confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality, all of which relate directly to mentoring.

On this day we celebrate the contributions that mentors make, not only to their mentees, but to society at large.

Benefits of Having a Mentor

  • Over 25% of youth reported that their mentor helped them either stay in or return to school
  • 95% of young adults who had a mentor growing up completed high school
  • Mentored youth were twice as likely to have completed high school compared to their peers who did not have access to a mentor
  • 90% of young adults who faced adverse life circumstances and were mentored completed high school compared to 80% of those who did not have a mentor
  • Support growth
  • Serve as a source of knowledge
  • Help set goals
  • Are a trusted ally
  • Offer constructive feedback

But it’s not just the mentees who benefit. Mentors not only feel good about their impact on a young person’s life, they also can gain more inclusive perspectives to problems, and improve communication and leadership skills.

Mentoring Peter

On International Mentoring Day, Lisa, Mentorship Coordinator at CHV, shares a story of how having a mentor helped a young person pursue their passion.

I was approached by a social worker one day, who was hoping that I could match a young person, named Peter*, with a mentor. As part of our trauma-informed approach, Covenant House Vancouver believes that safe relationships are the vehicle by which youth can begin to address and heal from their trauma. The social worker said, “In all likelihood, Peter won’t stay matched to a mentor for a whole year. He probably won’t want to sign any of the paperwork, and he may have trouble making and getting to the meetings; but I think that this would be very good for him.” So, we went ahead and started the matching journey. When requested, we really try to match a youth to a mentor, because we know that the experience could really benefit the youth.

Peter required someone who was patient, calm, engaged, and understanding, as well as someone who loved and appreciated art, as that was Peter’s passion. I discovered a perfect fit. The mentor was a kind, gentle, sweet man that had adopted and raised a special needs son on his own and now that his son had grown up, he was looking to support someone else. The timing was perfect, and I knew that this could be a great match. I don’t know how I have such luck in finding mentors. I feel that the most amazing people who mentor just find us.

The three of us met. I matched Peter to Ron, and it was one the most amazing matches that I’ve had the privilege of walking along side of. I won’t say that it didn’t come with its challenges, but anything that is worthwhile often does. Not only did they stay matched for over a year, but they have remained in contact, which is amazing when you consider that Peter initially, only wanted a mentor for three months.

One the sweetest things that I remember Peter saying to me about his mentor was, “When I was being mentored by Ron, sometimes I just wanted to draw and not talk, and he would just sit with me and watch me, quietly. He was there, silently encouraging me. I can’t really explain it, but it was what I needed.” I also will remember the day I got the call from Ron, who was so excited. “Lisa, Peter got into the art school that he applied to! I am so proud of him.”

I have to say that after eight years in this position, I am still amazed at how many incredible relationships have developed in the Mentorship Program. I have never stayed in a position this long before, but I could never leave something where I get to see the beauty, the humanity, the hope, the resiliency, and the love, each and each day. This is just one of many matches that I have been privileged enough to walk along side of, and I hope to be a part of more, over the coming years.

*Name of both youth and mentor have been changed to protect their privacy