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2018 Comcast Vermont Mentor of the Year Award
Thank you for participating in the 2018 Comcast Vermont Mentor of the Year voting! The public portion of the voting closed on Thursday, January 4, 2018. The winning mentor will be announced later in January, and will receive the award at Mobius’ annual Mentoring Celebration at the Statehouse (January 31)!
(Click here to jump to the voting form at the bottom of the page.)
Meet the 2018 Comcast Mentor of the Year Award Nominees:
Name: Jim Hyde
Program: Connecting Youth Mentoring at Charlotte Central School/Champlain Valley Union
Length of Time with Program: 4 years
Nomination: Jim is a curious, intelligent, creative, fun and funny, organized, consistent and caring human being who strives to pass his knowledge and joy of life to others. He loves children. He and his wife have three grandchildren and each summer they take each child for one week by themselves so they can really get to know each of them as individuals, rather than as a group. Read More…
Jim began mentoring at the Charlotte Central School school-based program four years ago with a 7th grade student who loved math and was a bit reserved. As a retired professor, Jim loved the challenge of doing fun things that were new to him and would draw his mentee out to see beyond what he thought he could see. In their one hour together each week they explored and created mechanical sculptures with cardboard, built an intricate sailboat, used CAD drawings, and designed all sorts of things (along with the usual playing ping pong and hanging out to play games together). Most of all, Sam and Jim became friends. When Sam graduated from 8th grade, they moved together in to the high school community based mentoring program. They started sailing, going to maker fairs, and building things together (they built a guitar and took apart an engine).Two years ago, when Jim and Sam moved in to the high school community mentoring program, Jim decided to mentor another middle school student at CCS. It is not difficult to match Jim with a student because he can inspire and connect with nearly anyone– his new mentor is outgoing. Together they go around the building doing good deeds for others: fixing chairs that aren’t working right, retooling a computer stand to make it more functional, and doing other community service projects. Last year they took apart an old overhead projector for fun and ended up making a solar oven out of it. In the spring they went out to the parking lot and cooked hotdogs and smores! At the end of the school year last year Jim knew he would be away for our end of the year event. Rather than leave it at that, he asked if he could have a goodbye day with his middle school mentee. Together with his wife and her mentee, they walked over to the local farm and spent the day learning about farming. Jim has been a solid caring adult in Noah’s life and I suspect they will be together through at least Noah’s four years as a middle school student.
As a mentor in the CCS program, Jim is a huge support. He fixes things and makes sure our building materials are in order in the mentor loft. Jim attends all of our mentor meetings and helps behind the scenes with events like our family mentor dinner and our annual ping pong tournament pizza party. Jim and his first mentee, Sam, joined the committee that spent one year in meetings (every other week for 1 1/2 hours for the school year, starting at 7:30 AM!) envisioning that program prior to its outset in 2015-2016. The following year they joined our CVU high school advisory board together and continue to commit to being at all meetings. Jim even recruited his wife to our school-based program at CCS where Susan has been an equally amazing mentor with one middle school student for the past 3 years.
Jim is a mentor who any coordinator would love to have in their program because he sincerely cares about kids and goes the extra mile in all that he does. -Wendy Bratt, Connecting Youth mentoring coordinator at Charlotte Central School
Name: Laura Isham
Program: Watershed Mentoring (Franklin County Caring Communities)
Length of Time with Program: 4 years
Nomination: Laura, who is employed by Customs and Border Protection, has been an amazing mentor to April for almost 4 years. She started mentoring her current mentee just after April turned 12. Laura and April have met consistently for just under 4 years (4 years at the end of January) and have also been regulars at mentor group celebrations and events during that time. They are a great pair, so different in many ways but sharing key common interests that keep them bonded. In addition to the regular mentoring activities like walking their dogs, eating a meal, playing games, and watching movies, they’ve walked the trails of the Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge, summitted a mountain with Rise Vermont, kayaked, participated in a Zombie Run, and visited Johnson State College. Read More…
Laura has been with her mentee through the ups and downs of early adolescence, challenging times in grade school, the transition from middle school to high school, the loss of family members, and her own (Laura’s) wedding. April’s mother expresses gratitude for Laura for her support of April and her respect for parental boundaries and rules. For her part, Laura has introduced April to members of her family, including her grandmother, whom April loves to visit, her parents, and her husband. Much of their time together involves talking about feelings, choices, and thinking about the future. -Beth Crane, executive Director of Franklin County Caring Communities
Name: Mark Johnson & Lynne Tiballi
Program: King Street Center’s Junior Senior Buddies Program
Length of Time with Program: 7 years
Nomination: “It takes a village,” was the somewhat cliché subject heading of a back and forth email thread between Mark Johnson, Lynne Tiballi, and myself five years ago. Together, we were making a plan to advocate for special services at school for a boy named Hassan, then in 2nd grade. That concept of collective support has become our mantra. Lynne started out as Hassan’s tutor, but quickly realized that their friendship was something special – and she wanted to take Hassan beyond the doors of King Street Center and into the community. Recognizing that Hassan also needed a positive male figure in his life, Mark agreed to co-mentor Hassan with Lynne. Ever since, the two of them have been Hassan’s strongest and sincerest advocates. Read More…
Never wavering from their role as mentors, even in the most difficult of times, Lynne and Mark have weathered some challenging elementary and middle school years – requesting school meetings, staying in constant touch with teachers, and providing hours upon hours of reading and math support. Hassan was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, his family hailing from Somalia. Mark and Lynne have been instrumental in helping him to navigate American culture and norms, giving him chores to teach the importance of earning and budgeting money, and helping him to integrate into the community by enrolling and driving Hassan to basketball practices and games. The angst of adolescence in smoothed over when Lynne takes Hassan to see the latest movie or with Mark takes him for a nice dinner in a restaurant.These are also opportunities to engage difficult conversations – but also to prove their unconditional love, support, and guidance.
While Hassan has benefited significantly from this mentoring relationship, he is not alone in the rewards of friendship. He is a deeply caring young man, filled with charisma – attracting many friends and is a central figure in his large family. Hassan brings great joy and light to both Mark and Lynne. Hassan considers these long-time mentors to be an important part of his family. Their passion, dedication, and commitment is unsurpassable.
I am grateful that Mark and Lynne do not keep their mentoring skills a secret. They bring tremendous wisdom to King Street Center’s Junior Senior Buddy Advisory Committee, dedicating additional time to help strengthen our mentoring program for so many other volunteers. Lynne and Mark are incredible advocates for mentoring in the community, both truly understanding the commitment and steadfast approach it takes to develop a long lasting friendship with a youth.
Gabriella Tufo Strouse, Volunteer Director at the King Street Center
Name: Ruth Murphy
Program: Milton Mentors! (Milton Community Youth Coalition)
Length of Time with Program: 5 Years
Nomination: Ruth has truly gone above and beyond for her mentee, and their relationship has weathered the tests of time as well as the transition from elementary school to middle school, as well as from middle school to high school. Ruth is dedicated, down-to-earth, and a consistent, positive, and caring presence in her mentee’s life. They so clearly feel comfortable and at ease with each other, and have kept a scrapbook to commemorate the fun activities they have done together.
– Sophie Duncan, Youth Programs & Food Access Coordinator, Milton Community Youth Coalition
Name: Terry Palatino
Program: Grand Isle County Mentoring Program & Spectrum Mentoring Program)
Length of Time with Program: 8 Years
Nomination: Terry has been a mentor with Grand Isle County Mentoring for eight years and now with Spectrum Mentoring for one year. She is a mentor who gives her all to her mentee and to mentoring in general. Terry has recruited over a dozen mentors for GIC Mentoring. She contributes in every way to mentoring. She has recently gotten her mentee involved in a coding for girls program at UVM and transports her each Saturday to the class. She has exposed her mentee to theater events and outdoor activities. Read More…
As her mentee prepares to attend high school next year, Terry is working to help her be ready. She has been there for her mentee when she is having a hard time. Terry is passionate about learning additional ways to be supportive to her mentee and attends mentor trainings regularly. She is is the highest example of a wonderful mentor. -Karen Browning, Grand Isle County Mentoring Program
Name: Arliene Pearson
Program: Journey Mentoring Program
Length of Time with Program: 3 Years
Nomination: Arliene is the epitome of “selfless.” Not only did she raise 15 children, many of whom were adopted. She also did so while experiencing the loss of two husbands, both passing due to cancer. Once her last child moved out of her home, she inquired about getting involved in another student’s life. Read More…
Arliene doesn’t just meet with her mentee. She plans experiences where they can grow together in friendship and community. Arliene also takes the initiative to reach into the lives of her mentee’s siblings.
Arliene’s grace and compassion are evident by the fact that she does not acknowledge her behavior as anything special, only available. Someone said “The best ability is availability.”
Time spent with people, over time, compounds. Arliene’s mentee is doing much better in school, at home and with friends since being matched with Arliene. -Jeff Fuller, director of Journey Mentoring
Name: Meghan Rowe
Program: The DREAM Program
Length of Time with Program: 3 years
Nomination: Meg loves telling the story of how she and her mentee, Mani, matched. She laughs as she begins, “It was my first time at DREAM, we were doing a scavenger hunt at UVM. I saw one of the mentees push another mentee into the fountain; then he smiled, pointed at me, and said, ‘You’re my mentor!’.” (Mani was 5 at the time) This story is a perfect description of their relationship. Mani is always testing boundaries and Meg is always there to guide him. Read More…
Meg and Mani joined DREAM around the same time, Meg is the Mani’s first ever mentor. Their relationship hasn’t always been easy. The first year they were getting to know each other was challenging. Mani continued to push and test boundaries but Meg never wavered. She went above and beyond to advocate for him and planned activities she knew he would be successful in. Including reaching out to community resources to try and enroll him in Aikido classes and planning smaller group activities where he could be more active. Their relationship has grown and strengthened over the past years. Mani doesn’t like to show it, but if Meg is ever absent he always asks where she is and when he can see her next. Some of their favorite outings are sharing meals at McDonald’s (Mani loves cheeseburgers!), going swimming in the lake, and just being active outside.
Mani comes from a large family, a family that Meg is now a part of. She is close with all of his siblings and has built a strong relationship with their mother. She attends Mani’s older siblings’ soccer and basketball games and when visiting Mani at home, she will often end up spending the whole night sitting in his living room hanging out with him and his siblings. When Mani’s younger sister was born over the summer Meg was one of the first people to meet her when she came home.
Meg is extremely passionate about DREAM. She was a student leader for the chapter of her program for one year and also served as an AmeriCorps member with DREAM organizing programming over the summer. Through her involvement Meg has built close relationships with several of the mentees in the program, she truly embodies DREAM’s village mentoring model. She is the first person many of them go to with problems at school or when they have exciting news to share. Currently, Meg is taking the lead on planning an adventure trip to San Francisco with nine of our teen mentees. She has also been a driving force in planning other teen specific programming such as teen talks and college tours and information sessions.
Meg’s love of DREAM and the kids is evident, her eyes light up any time she talks about it. She is constantly thinking of ways to improve our programming so all of the kids feel included and continue to stay engaged with DREAM. It is this passion and drive that makes Meg such an amazing mentor! -Kelsea Moulton, program empowerment director/AmeriCorps VISTA at The DREAM Program
Name: Wanda Stetson
Program: Crossroads: Where Cultures Meet (Baba Tree International)
Length of Time with Program: 2 years (since program started)
Nomination: Wanda Stetson has shown up to Crossroads with more than full enthusiasm for learning, participating, and caring for her relationship with her mentee. She has gone beyond our time requirements while also leading another mentoring program for younger kids at Edmunds (through Everybody Wins! Vermont). Wanda builds an empathic relationship with her mentees that bridges cultural differences and connects through mutual trust and respect. She has even been a help with communicating with her mentee’s family members when there have been cultural misunderstandings. Her first mentee she had for over a year with us was more than testimony. In the mentee’s exit interview (before she moved to Pennsylvania) she commented that missing Wanda was the only reason the move was hard. Read More…
Wanda encourages her mentees to be active in their studies and helps them to search out their passions in extracurricula activities. I have witnessed her support her mentees to be confident young adults who can navigate the challenges of being a New American (just within their first couple years of living in the U.S.) while getting the most they can out of high school. She considers important details like making a book for her mentee that moved. It was a hardbound book with photos and stories of their entire time together. -Catherine Cadden, Crossroads mentoring coordinator
Name: Patty Stickney
Program: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont (Windham County Program)
Length of Time with Program: 2 years
Nomination: Patty’s mentee has had a number of hardships: incarcerated parent, parent released from jail, foster homes, separation from schools, challenges of finding the right school, separation from younger siblings and more. With all the many challenges her mentee has faced in the last year alone, her Big, Patty, has kept following her. Wherever she went, whomever she was living with, Patty worked professionally and with the help of the Big Brothers Big Sisters office to continue to be a positive, consistent person in her mentee’s life. Read More…
She sees her Little in a way no one else does. Patty focuses on her mentee’s resiliency, passion for conversation and ability to be strong advocate for herself. Never does she overstep boundaries and is genuinely invested in her mentee’s life and future. This is a match that has and will withstand whatever comes its way. -Gina Graciano, Program Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont
Name: Terri Weinstein
Program: Twinfield Together Mentoring Program
Length of Time with Program: 9 years
Nomination: In 2009, when our community was looking to start a mentoring program, Terri Weinstein was one of the first community members to step up – despite the fact she had two children of her own. In the nine years since Twinfield Together first began, Terri has been a consistent mentor and program supporter. Read More…
When her first mentee moved away, she signed up to take on another mentee. Terri is now matched with Tori, and they are both so happy to spend time together and learning from each other. Meeting with Terri is something her mentee looks forward to each week, and Tori would be the first to say that Terri is the best mentor in Vermont! -Pam Quinn, director of Twinfield Together Mentoring Program