Information about our Mentors
Role of Mentor:
Mentors are volunteers who are matched with a young person in a one to one relationship. Matches are based on similarity across a number of variables including:
- interests (eg. recreation, leisure)
- goals (eg. vocational, educational, achievement)
- demographics (eg. background, life experience/problems)
- gender, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds
- access and availability
- level of risk and need
- other personal variables
The volunteers are expected to act as role models, mentors and advocates. They are expected to commit a minimum of 6-9 months to the program. Mentors meet with the youth at least 8 hours per month. This usually means 2-3 hours per week, as well as telephone contact as required. Volunteers will have regular contact with program staff and are expected to attend scheduled meetings.
Training and Orientation:
Prior to being matched with a young person, the volunteer will be provided with the volunteer manual, and the Program Coordinator will ensure that all aspects of the manual are clearly understood. An updated list of program and community resources will be made available to the volunteer in order to assist in the planning of activities with the youth. The Coordinator and volunteer will ensure that all screening requirements have been met and that the volunteer is able to make the commitment necessary for a successful mentoring experience.
Once a youth is chosen for the match, the volunteer will be oriented to the youth's background, family dynamics, potential problems, and any other issues that may be relevant to the young person. The volunteer will be introduced to other agencies and professionals working with the youth as required.
Throughout the volunteer's involvement with the Program, meetings and workshops will be available as the interest demands. Volunteers are encouraged to utilize these opportunities in order to broaden their knowledge of youth related issues. Other training opportunities arise from time to time where limited numbers of volunteers can attend workshops held by other organizations. A current list is available at the office and is accessible through the Volunteer Manager.
Mentors set standards of performance for the youth. Volunteers are expected to conduct themselves, and present themselves as law-abiding people. This is particularly critical when dealing with a youth who may be in conflict with the law. Through this kind of role modeling, youth can see alternative forms of behaviour, and also appreciate that life can be (more) fun without breaking the law. As one experienced mentor said "be who you say you are and let your actions reflect your words".
It is also very important that volunteers do not question or criticize persons in authority when with the youth. If there are situations where the volunteer disagrees with such a person's decision or point of view, the Program Director should be made aware of the circumstances of the conflict. The Coordinator will work in partnership with the volunteer and youth to resolve the conflict. While questioning authority is far from being wrong, it can result in the youth misinterpreting the criticism due to their lack of maturity.
When the volunteer is with the young person, generally the youth is on his or her best behaviour. At times however, the youth may display inappropriate behaviour. At no time should the volunteer use any form of physical intervention or restraint to deal with these situations.