Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe interacts with a panel of youth mentees and adult mentors at the 2017 Vermont Mentoring Symposium, convened by Mobius at the Waterbury State Offices Complex on May 9. Panelists, from left: Jack Roya (14) and Karl Bissex (Twinfield Together Mentoring); Melanie McLane (17) and Marilu Duke (Girls/Boyz First); and Rachel McCarthy and Hayden Roy (9, Howard Center Community Friends). Mobius photo.
Vermont Business Magazine Mobius convened the 2017 Vermont Mentoring Symposium at the State Offices Complex in Waterbury on Tuesday, May 9. This statewide event brought together more than 60 youth mentoring program staff, board members, and supporters from across Vermont for a day of networking and professional development. In addition to the workshops and networking activities, the event featured appearances from US Congressman Peter Welch, field representatives Diane Derby and Katarina Lisaius from the offices of Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, and Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) Ken Schatz.
Congressman Welch thanked mentoring program staff for the work they do, and praised mentoring as playing a critical role in supporting the health and well-being of young people, and helping to build closer ties between Vermonters of all ages. “Giving of ourselves to our community makes us all better,” said Welch.
Derby spoke about Senator Leahy’s many years of support for mentoring in Vermont, and recent efforts with Mobius and Senator Sanders’ office to try to bring federal funding for mentoring back into the state. Lisaius discussed Senator Sanders’ concerns about the low percentage of high school graduates in Vermont who go on to pursue post-secondary education, and the role mentoring programs and mentors play in helping to bridge this gap.
Montpelier resident Andrea Stander, a mentor of 17 years, closed out the morning programme by sharing from her experiences as a mentor for multiple mentees through the Girls/Boyz First mentoring program.
Secretary Holcombe joined the group later in the afternoon as the facilitator for a mentor/mentee match panel: Marilu Duke and her 17-year-old mentee Melanie McLane (Girls/Boyz First); Karl Bissex and his 14-year-old mentee Jack Roya (Twinfield Together Mentoring); and Rachel McCarthy and her nine-year-old mentee Hayden Roy (Howard Center Community Friends).
Holcombe asked each mentor pair a variety of questions about things they learned and experienced over the course of their relationship together, and also touched on different ways that mentoring has played a role, directly or indirectly, in the mentee’s education.
Commissioner Schatz gave closing remarks, and shared the importance of mentoring to DCF’s substance abuse prevention efforts. DCF also provided free space for Mobius to host the event.
During the afternoon portion of the event, attendees participated in a series of workshops on a variety of topics including trauma-informed mentoring, grantwriting, board development, youth behavioral issues, match support, and working with parents.
The Vermont Mentoring Symposium was planned and organized by Mobius and its Program Leadership Council, an advisory group comprised of elected representatives from mentoring programs across the state that advises and assists the organization with its various youth mentoring initiatives.
According to the “Mentoring Effect,” a study released in 2014 by MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership), one in three youth in Vermont will enter adulthood without having a formal or informal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. The results of national studies by MENTOR and Big Brothers Big Sisters illustrate that a mentor can enhance a young person’s learning skills and help him or her build resiliency and pro-social skills.
Youth with mentors are less likely to engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, are more likely to develop positive relationships with peers and adults, and more likely to pursue college and other post-secondary opportunities.
Now in its fifth year as Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership, Mobius supports approximately 140 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites that serve 2,300 mentor pairs throughout the state. Mobius awards more than $300,000 to youth mentoring agencies annually through the Vermont Mentoring Grants, which are made possible by support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation, DCF, and the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children.
Mobius also offers technical support to program staff, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, works with programs to ensure they are meeting best practices, and leads statewide mentoring initiatives. For more information about Mobius, and mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mobiusmentors.org.
Source: Mobius. 5.12.2017