Currently viewing the category: "mentoring"

 

My name is Rajnii Eddins, and I am a mentor, a spoken word/hip hop artist, and an arts educator.

I was contacted in January of 2017 by Lee Ann Donner, the former mentoring coordinator of Spectrum, who invited me to create a Rajnii and Ethan with Govrap in celebration of mentoring to be performed at the statehouse for National Mentoring Month. I was very excited about the idea, and agreed to begin working on a piece with the understanding that I would be able to bring my mentee, Ethan Katon, to perform the piece with me and share the positive experience of expressing the value of mentorship together. I chose the “So Gone Challenge” instrumental used by Monica, a popular R&B artist, because I knew it would be familiar to youth and that it would be a fun twist to celebrate mentorship through the lens of hip hop. I titled the song “I Will Succeed” as a way of positively affirming and inspiring youth on their journey to becoming productive and contributing community members as well as celebrating mentors’ valuable role in this endeavor.

It was such an exciting and engaging experience to share the song and open up for the governor at the statehouse. The crowd was a mixture of youth mentees and mentors, as well as other elders, political representatives, and mentorship organizations. What an amazing experience to see everyone participate in call and response repeating the chorus “I Will Succeed” in unison.

After sharing such a wonderful experience with my mentee, an idea came to me that this song would make a wonderful video and Rajnii with king st center teensperhaps be a useful tool/PSA in encouraging community members to mentor, and illustrating the value it plays in the role of youth and community in general. I reached out to Benji Thurber, communications director of Mobius, and he was just as excited about the idea. We set a meeting with my good friend and amazing teacher/videographer Pete Wyndorf, who took to the idea as well and agreed to team up for this most exciting and inspiring project. We were able to set a few different prime locations for filming such as King Street Center, as well as the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and everyone showed  exuberant enthusiasm for the project that definitely shines through in the video. An additional feather in our cap was having Pete’s access to a drone camera and getting to film on the rooftop of the King Street Center. The joy seen on the faces of the children and the mentors definitely helps to display the facile connection between mentorship and positive community development. I am excited to see the video “I Will Succeed” inspire a great many more to become mentors and share this positive role in the lives of a youth.

Positive affirmation can make all the difference in a young person’s world. This is a great message and a very important one to remember. The value in encouraging youth to be their best and brightest selves cannot be overstated. I am honored to have participated in such a wonderful project, thankful to everyone who participated, and am definitely looking forward to more collaborations for this purpose. I hope it inspires you too!

“I will succeed…I will succeed…I will succeed…I will succeed…because I keep it positive in my thoughts, words, and deeds!”

-Rajnii Eddins

 

About the videographer

My name is Pete Wyndorf and I am a public educator at Milton High School, focusing on creative media and global studies. I am passionate about giving young people as much love, support, guidance, and affirmation as I possibly can, and it is for this reason that I readily agreed to collaborate with my good friend Rajnii Eddins.

The project started with the song, “I Will Succeed,” which is such a simple, yet dynamic affirmation, and Rajnii and I immediately began to visualize how this project might look and come together. We shot over two days, incorporating different locations and youth mentoring partnerships, Rajnii’s beautiful personality and music, and an improvisational spirit. The result was a wonderful combination of human spirit, synergy with the spaces in which we shot video, and tremendous positive energy. I spent a few weeks editing the project together and experimenting with different versions, but was guided by the spirit with which we executed the production, which was pretty loose and open to creative opportunities.

I had a blast working with all the wonderful adults and young people in this project, and hope that it spreads its positive message and call to action far and wide. Rajnii’s song is what makes this project so exceptional, his gift of communication and unfiltered positive energy and support for young people is contagious.

-Pete Wyndorf

 

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this process and facilitated in making this video happen.

A special thank you to: King Street Center, Spectrum Youth & Family Services, Milton Mentors!, Zach Crawford, and Gabriella Tufo Strouse.

 Individuals featured in this video:
King Street Mentees and Youth: 
Najima, Amina, Uson, Batula, Maslah, Ziree, Rahma, Jace, Salima, Bibashi, Nyla, Aden, Kaung, Rohan, Apshir, Omar, Mohamed, Nyankor, Hawa, Gaston, Dahabo, Alex, Espoir, Yusuf, Filibin, Ngang, Ayan, Kadar, Djamal, Neema, Rotha, Bassiru, Halima, Tom, Jasper, Charite, Deng
King Street Mentors: Hunter Townsend, Alyssa Malone
Milton Mentors Pair: Lisa Bongiorno and Tiana
King Street Center Staff: Rosie Czech, Deena Murphy
And filmmaker’s daughter, Sage

This election season, we asked all of the Vermont candidates for governor and lieutenant governor a couple of questions related to mentoring. We wanted to know why they think youth mentoring is important, and who some of the mentors are in their lives. We’ve included all of the responses we received below. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about each of the candidates’ stances on mentoring!

Candidates for Governor of Vermont:   

Phil Scott

Candidate Name: Phil Scott Political Affiliation: Republican Party

Phil Scott
Republican Nominee for Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

Mentoring is important to Vermont’s future because it makes both an immediate and long-term impact on a young person’s life. In government and politics, we spend a lot of time trying to improve the educational opportunities for young Vermonters, and regardless of party there is a consensus that investing in our children’s future is among the best uses of public resources. However, the factors that shape a child’s future extend beyond the classroom, and far too many Vermont children are considered “at-risk,” and lack reliable adult role models at home. That’s where mentoring comes in, because it gives a young person both the person to look up to and the person to rely on that every child deserves. Mentors help shape children’s perceptions of the world, reinforce positive traits and activities, and pass on the intangible life skills that can ultimately propel children to success when they become adults. People who dedicate their time and energy in mentoring programs deserve every Vermonter’s thanks and respect for their investment in our children’s future.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

I’ve had many mentors in my life, both as a child and as an adult. Two that come to mind are Richard Flies, my high school shop teacher, and Senator Dick Mazza, with whom I served in the Vermont legislature.

Richard Flies had a tremendous impact on my life growing up. He sparked my interest in the trades, pushed me to succeed in school, and ultimately, when I enrolled in college, I studied to become a vocational educator to follow in his footsteps (perhaps subliminally). I even got my teaching certificate, but since life always has a way of surprising us, my path led me into business instead. I don’t think it’s an accident that I work in construction today; Mr. Flies taught me that I get the most enjoyment out of building things and working with my hands, and his lessons still resonate with me to this day.

My second mentor came into my life much later, 16 years ago, in fact, when I entered politics, and this mentor came from the most unusual of places: the other party. Senator Dick Mazza, a Democrat from Grand Isle County, took me under his wing and taught me how important it is to hear both sides of an issue and how to be an advocate for my constituents. He was the first person to encourage me to seek the Lt. Governor’s office and he has surpassed the level of colleague and mentor – he truly feels like my family.

To learn more about Phil Scott, visit www.philscott.org.

Sue Minter

Sue Minter - Democratic Nominee for Governor of Vermont

Sue Minter
Democratic Nominee for Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

As a working mom, I spent countless hours volunteering in my kids’ schools in Waterbury helping children learn to read, write and be productive students. I saw first hand what a difference it made to have caring adults engaged in the lives of young people. That’s why I have made mentoring a key component of Vermont Promise, my plan for tuition-free community and technical college.

Vermont Promise will enable all young Vermonters to receive the education and training they need to participate and succeed in this 21st Century economy. Right now, two thirds of the jobs in Vermont require some form of higher education, and yet 40 percent of Vermont students do not go on to receive any kind of post-secondary education. Vermont Promise will ensure that students can access jobs that pay well, give families an affordable path to college, and make sure that businesses have the strong workforce they need in order to grow. Vermont Promise is a win-win-win for our state.

All participants in Vermont Promise will be matched with a volunteer mentor. I believe that this statewide mentoring program will be one of the most powerful parts of Vermont Promise. Young people need a champion, someone to challenge and encourage them to aim higher. The Vermont Promise mentors will help change the lives of young people all across the state.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

  • Former Governor Madeleine Kunin has been a tireless torch bearer, encouraging me and other women to step up, speak up, and lead.
  • Don Laws – My figure skating coach until age 16, taught me perseverance, commitment, and the importance of having fun, following a dream, and never giving up.
  • Bobby Minter – My late big brother questioned authority, pushed limits, taught me about social justice, was vivacious & competitive, and was also a goofball.
  • Evelyn Minter – My 86-year-old mom gave me my optimism, a zest for life and adventure, a passion for sports, and showed me that the world was not a level playing field, and instilled in me the commitment to make life better for others.

To learn more about Sue Minter, visit www.sueminter.com.

Candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont:

David Zuckerman

David Zuckerman - Candidate for Vermont Lieutenant Governor

David Zuckerman
Democratic/Progressive Nominee for Lieutenant Governor

Why do you believe youth mentoring is important to Vermont’s future?

Youth mentoring is critical and provides a benefit to the youth as well as mentors. Today’s youth have many distractions and challenges to overcome. Families are often divided, video games and “screen time” are always tempting, adolescence can be difficult to navigate, and schoolwork expectations continue to grow. Too many are falling behind or not developing basic life skills. Mentoring can provide an opportunity to practice interacting with different people, help understand how to manage money and time, and provide opportunity to learn how to accept constructive (and sometimes not as constructive) criticism.

Our youth are as strong as the communities they are raised in. The more people there to support, listen, encourage, and teach the more opportunities they will find. Parents are also busy and a family with all parents working is the norm. Mentors increase the amount of time and diversity of perspectives youth have access to. I also think there is a value to the mentor as it allows others the opportunity to also build friendships, have their skills validated, or celebrate success together. I see opportunity to engage more of our aging population in mentoring programs as a way to utilize the wealth of information they have and provide them with an important purpose after they retire.

Looking back, who are some of the mentors you’ve had and what impact did those individuals have on your life?

My father died a month after I turned 13. My older brother had his own challenges as a teenager so at that time he could not really be my mentor. There was a math teacher, David Moore, at the high school who was also a family friend and he mentored me while taking me on occasional fishing trips, or walks in nearby parks. Our neighbors were also mentor “substitute” parents. Cheryl Whitfield was a second mother for me. She and her husband Rufus, parents of my best friend Korey, gave me another perspective on enjoying life as well as working hard to get through difficult challenges. All three of those individuals helped show me the importance of empathy for others. The support and empathy that was shown to me has created the ability for me to empathize with others. I often rely on this skill with people who I do not know, but for whom I can have patience for their negative actions, knowing that something, sometime, somewhere, may well have put them into a state where they are not making the best decisions in that moment. Having patience to learn and accept where others are has been a very important life lesson and skill for me.

To learn more about David Zuckerman, visit www.zuckermanforvt.com.

Each month, Mobius creates a blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

 

Shelburne OrchardsCommunity Friends Apple Picking for Mentor Pairs

Apple picking was a blast at Shelburne Orchards for King Street and Community Friends Mentoring pairs.   The weather was as sweet and crisp as the yummy apples we picked on Saturday, September 26th.   More than just apples, we went on wagon rides, ate sugary donuts and slurped on the orchard’s specially made cider.  If you didn’t make it, plan to visit a local orchard before the snow flies as there is no better way to introduce kids and teens to healthy food than to have them pluck it themselves right off a tree and…munch!  To learn more about becoming a mentor in either of these local mentoring programs, visit the King Street or Community Friends webpages.

Starting this August, Mobius will be creating a monthly blog post highlighting mentoring program events from around the state. Would you like to see your event listed here (and referenced in Vermont’s Mentoring Newsletter)? Email benji@mobiusmentors.org with a write-up that includes the location and date of your event, as well as a summary of what happened. Photos are strongly encouraged!

 

Twinfield Together Mentoring Barbecue

July 28 Barbecue group pic Twinfield Together MentoringOn July 28th, community mentors, mentees, and families from the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program came together to swim, eat and boat together at Boulder Beach.  A huge thank you to Dave of Vermont Veggie Burger for donating his delicious veggie burgers for us to share.  To see a slide show of pictures, visit the Twinfield Together events page.

Mentor Celebrity - Cabot Community Celebrity CruiseDo you know an outstanding volunteer mentor in your community? Nominate him or her for the 2015 Cabot Community Celebrity Award! In collaboration with Mobius’ national affiliate MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership), Cabot Creamery Cooperative will recognize one lucky mentor as a part of the Cabot Community Celebrity Award Program. One lucky “Mentor Celebrity” (and a guest) will win an all-expense-paid, eight-day/seven-night Caribbean cruise from November 14- November 21, 2015.

The Community Celebrity Program, presented by the farmer-owners of Cabot since 2010, honors volunteers from a variety of causes from organizations across the country. The Mentor Celebrity will be joined by more than 50 fellow volunteer honorees for a week of workshops, seminars, and celebration. He or she will have the opportunity to share experiences and learn from fellow volunteers from a range of different backgrounds, all aboard a luxurious cruise ship.

MENTOR is accepting nominations for this incredible prize until June 1, 2015 or 100 submissions are received. Nominate a mentor from your community by filling out this short nomination form.

After the nomination period closes, MENTOR will announce the Mentor Celebrity finalists, who will be voted on by the public. Follow #MentoringCruise for updates. The winner will be notified by email or phone, no later than July 15, 2015.

For more information about the Community Celebrity Award Program, visit the Cabot Celebrity Cruise website.

Looking for a way to get all of your mentors involved with celebrating their volunteer efforts while also qualifying for prizes? Learn more about Cabot’s Reward Volunteers 6.0, and how your mentoring program can get involved with this fun, free initiative, by visiting Mobius’ Reward Volunteers page.

Around 80 adult mentors and youth mentees from the Grand Isle County Mentoring Program traveled to Burlington by bus to attend Community Science Night for Mentoring at the ECHO Science Center and Lake Aquarium.

Around 80 adult mentors and youth mentees from the Grand Isle County Mentoring Program traveled to Burlington by bus to attend Community Science Night for Mentoring at the ECHO Science Center.

On Wednesday, March 11, the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center was open after-hours for a special mentoring event! From giant chess to movies about aquatic life to hands-on demonstrations led by ECHO’s student leadership team of educators (the E-Team) to free pizza, Community Science Night provided something for each of the nearly 200 adult mentors and youth mentees who attended to enjoy. The event was sponsored by Mobius and the ECHO Open Door Program, and was attended by mentoring programs from Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties that are a part of the Chittenden County Mentoring Network.

For more about the event, read these recent news articles:
Burlington Free PressMentors and Youth Mentees in ECHO Spotlight
Lake Champlain IslanderECHO Hosted Local Mentors for Celebration of Mentoring
The Other PaperCommunity Science Night Celebrates Mentoring (turn to page 6!)
The CitizenECHO Hosts Mentor Pairs for Community Science Night
The Essex ReporterNearly 200 Adult Mentors and Youth Mentees Gather for Community Science Night

Spectrum mentor Dan Evans and his mentee Andrew explore a science exhibit together.

Spectrum mentor Dan Evans and his mentee Andrew explore a science exhibit together.

For many of the pairs in attendance, including Spectrum Mentoring pair Dan Davis and Andrew, group events like this one were a welcome addition to their normal one-on-one mentoring meetings. “It was nice to spend some time with [Andrew] doing something else, exploring the exhibits at Echo and especially playing some of the games,” said Dan. “I look forward to more events like that one.”

The “games” Dan mentioned were a part of the current featured exhibit, “Playing Together: Games.” In addition to the giant chess board, which was a huge hit, the exhibit also featured Nine Men’s Morris, Boc-Tin, Senet, Mancala, and Hop-Scotch, to name a few.

Community Science Night was also a time for ECHO’s student-led E-Team to shine, and share their scientific knowledge with youngsters and elders alike. The E-Team, made up of high school students from Chittenden County, led hands-on demonstrations and manned exhibits throughout the night, treating mentors and mentees to an experience that was both fun and educational.

Noella Krakowski, Science Education Specialist at ECHO, works with the E-Team throughout the year, and supervised their coordination of the event. “We are proud to have this partnership with the local mentoring community and were honored to host this event for them,” said Noella. “For the E-Team, Community Science Night gives them the opportunity to showcase the skills they have been developing through our program. It is amazing to see their knowledge in science grow and to watch how they share that knowledge with the public.”

Mentors and mentees from the King Street Center's Junior Senior Buddies mentoring program.

Mentors and mentees from the King Street Center’s Junior Senior Buddies mentoring program.

While the science and games were the highlights of the event, for some just the opportunity to spend time together and share a meal was special too. “It was such a wonderful event,” said King Street Center mentor Julie Elitzer, who came to Community Science Night with her third-grade mentee Amarre. “We enjoyed the pizza, and it gave us a nice time to connect about what had gone on in our week. Then being able to have such a great adventure at the Echo Center was fabulous.” The food at the event was catered by the Burlington Food Service.

In addition to mentors and mentees, two staff members from the Vermont offices of Senators Leahy and Sanders also made it out to the event. It was a great opportunity for our legislative partners to meet mentors and mentees, and experience mentoring first hand.

This year’s Community Science Night was a huge success, thanks to our amazing partners from ECHO. And their support continues year-round: mentors and mentees receive $2 admission throughout the year through the Mobius Mentor Discount Card. Thank you, ECHO, for all you do to support mentoring in Vermont!

Governor Madeleine Kunin and Mentee at Vermont StatehouseThe Vermont mentoring community continues to grow, and our state legislators have taken notice. We had a great time last Thursday celebrating with more than 90 mentoring friends near and far, our 2015 Vermont Mentoring Month Spokesperson Madeleine Kunin, Governor Shumlin, and the Vermont House and Senate.

Madeleine thanked all the mentors for their service, offered words of encouragement to mentees, and celebrated the power of each mentoring connection between an adult and a youth. She ended the day feeling as inspired by the mentor pairs she met at the event as they were by her, later reflecting: “I sensed the love and generosity of spirit that permeated the room.”

Current Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin took to the podium next to offer his own message of gratitude to everyone involved with mentoring (mentors, mentees, and program staff alike). The real star of his appearance, though, was 11-year-old Girls/Boys First mentee Anna Farber, who gave a flawless reading of the Governor’s proclamation officially recognizing January 15 as National Mentoring Month in Vermont. After the signing, she also took home a souvenir—the Governor’s pen.

After lunch in the statehouse cafeteria, mentors and mentees filled the House balcony as the House and Senate showed their support with a National Mentoring Month resolution read aloud on the House floor. Representative Leigh Dakin (Windsor-3-1) recognized the group and offered her own words of encouragement for their service and participation in the event.

“It was wonderfMentoring Programs in House of Representatives Balconyul for mentors and mentees to be recognized and appreciated for what they offer our mentoring program,” reflected Sarah Sanville, who coordinates the JUMP Mentoring Program ( a program of Northeast Kingdom Youth Services).

The event concluded with complimentary statehouse tours for mentors and mentees, a wonderful educational experience for youth and adults alike. Mentor pairs came from as far north as St. Johnsbury, and as far south as Bennington, to join in the festivities.

In total, fifteen programs participated in the event: Barstow Buddies, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bennington County; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County; The DREAM Program, Essex FriendCHIPS; Everybody Wins! Vermont, Girls/Boyz First; Howard Center’s Community Friends, JUMP Mentoring; King Street Center’s Junior Senior Buddies; The Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley; Monkton Mentors, SB Mentoring; United Way of Chittenden County; and Windsor County Partners.

Governor Peter Shumlin and Mentee Reading Mentoring Proclamation“Today history and civics came alive in this beautifully-restored Capitol building,” reflected Sue Pierce, mentoring coordinator from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bennington County (a program of United Counseling Service). “We thank Mobius for setting up this awesome opportunity.”

Jennifer Grant, executive director of Windsor County Partners, added: “Experienced political leaders recognize that mentoring is key to addressing issues in our society. Bringing together programs and politicians will help ensure that mentoring becomes available not only in selected towns, but across the state.”

Thank you to everyone who participated in the statehouse celebration and helped make it an awesome event! You can view all the fun on our Facebook album. While the statewide festivities are wrapping up for the month, Mobius is working to take our statewide mentoring message to the national level. Check back next week for a post about our experiences at the 2015 National Mentoring Summit, including meetings with the offices of Sanders, Leahy, and Welch.