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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.

It wasn’t a steering wheel, but a potter’s wheel that mentees and mentors were driving at Shelburne Art Center’s monthly Dinner and Art for mentor pairs.  The class was small enough that clay artist (and teacher extraordinaire) Rik Rolla felt comfortable giving a brief demonstration, then giving each mentor and mentee a turn at the wheel.

Johara, from Spectrum, makes a pot with help of teacher Rik Rolla.

Johara, my mentee through the Spectrum Mentoring program, went first.  She threw the clay in the middle of the wheel and she centered it with a little help from Rik.  In no time at all she had formed a very nice pot.

“That looked pretty easy!”  I thought.  One at a time we each took our turn.  Johara’s younger sister, Muna, was next, then Nikki from HowardCenter’s Community Friends Mentoring, then her mentor Sheila, and then me.  It turns out it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but we all had a great time.  With Rik’s help (a lot of help) we each created a pot that we will be proud of.

Pots ready for the kiln.

It turns out that Johara made it look easy because she seems to have a natural feel for the wheel.  So much so that Rik took notice and arranged to get a scholarship for Johara to be part of his wheel class in May.  Little sister, Muna, was excited for Johara, but also hoped to attend with her, but the last scholarship available went to Johara.  A very kind donor to Shelburne Art Center was so moved when she learned about the girls, that she has offered to pay Muna’s tuition for the class.

When Johara learned about the scholarship offer, she lit up like a spring flower on a warm day.  In a New American family of six children, she doesn’t get to feel special very often.  She has talent!  She beamed with excitement!

Johara and Rik at the wheel.

The Shelburne Art Center has supported mentoring with the free Dinner and Art program since the fall.  Whether a mentee comes just once and has a good time making something, or if they come every month like Johara and Muna, those moments of fun and accomplishment make a huge difference in their lives.  Thank you, Rik, Sage, and everyone at Shelburne Art Center!

The April Dinner and Art was the last one at Shelburne Art Center.  In May, going back to its roots, the Shelburne Art Center will become the Shelburne Craft School, which was the original name of the organization, dating back to 1938.   The first Dinner and Art for mentor pairs at the Shelburne Craft School will be May 21st.  Come join in on the fun!

Kristen Hayden-West with some HowardCenter Community Friends Pairs

Some of us only bowl once a year.  But what a great time it is when that once a year is the annual mentor pair bowling party that winds up Mobius’ National Mentoring Month festivities!

This year’s bowling party was a big hit with all.  Thirty or so pairs from four programs came out and showed off their skills (or their eagerness to develop their bowling skills).   Mentees ranged in age from  6 to   17.   Mentors ranged…let’s just say we ranged in bowling skill levels from some who get quite a few strikes and spares to “I need bumpers, too.”

King Street pair, Nurto and mentor Monique Fox

Bowling is an activity that some pairs do from time to time, thanks to Spare Time’s generosity as a Mobius Card partner.  But it was especially fun to bowl with so many other pairs.  The pizza and soda were were crowd-pleasers.  But for the mentors, perhaps the best part was the delight in the faces of their mentees when all the pins fell, or even if most of the pins fell down.

Spectrum Mentor Colleen Montgomery and Samantha

“We all enjoyed watching the little girls from King Street hugging the bowling ball with both arms to carry it over to the lane.  We were bowling for fun, not to be competitive.”  Spectrum mentor, Colleen Montgomery.

“As program coordinator of the mentoring program at Spectrum, attending the bowling party at Spare Time is just the kind of event that fuels my commitment. It combines the positive power  that the mentors give to their mentees, the generosity of community businesses, like Spare Time and the sheer joy of kids who are thriving because of having a mentor. The sum is much greater than the parts, a combined effort that touches and  changes the way these  kids view themselves and their futures.” Spectrum Program Coordinator Dee Johnson.

The bowling party was a great success.  If you are not a mentor, we’d love to talk to you about becoming one.  Then you can bowl with us next year.  [email protected].

Is it a strike? King Street Center mentee, Hannah, watches to see.

King Street Mentor, Emily Kittredge

Emily Kittredge, Hannah, and Makayla (King Street)


The Vermont Delegation to the New England Regional Conference

“Mentoring for Impact,” was the theme of the New England Regional Conference, which drew more than 200 mentoring professionals to Framingham, MA in mid-October to focus on outcomes, and the success of effective mentoring.  Mobius was one of six sponsors of the conference, along with partnerships from Maine, Massachusetts, New York City, Connecticut and Rhode Island in collaboration with the Mentor Consulting Group and MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership.

Two professors from the University of Massachusetts, Boston,  Dr. Jean E. Rhodes from the Department of Psychology and Dr. Renee Spencer from the School of Social Work, presented new research in their keynote address.  Dr. Susan Weinberger of the Mentor Consulting Group closed the conference with a presentation of on “Mentoring for Impact.”

Kristen Hayden-West of HowardCenter's Community Friends Mentoring

The Vermont delegation included 19 people from 11 mentoring organizations around the state.  Kristen Hayden-West from HowardCenter’s Community Friends Mentoring was one of the workshop presenters, offering a talk on “Mentoring Children in Kinship Care:  How Can Programs Best Support Children Being Raised by Relative Caregivers?”  Community Friends works with many children in kinship care, which has some special challenges.  “These families have pressures and strengths that are unique to kinship care, says Kristen, “it shifts everyone’s relations within the family structures, not inconsequentially.”  She spoke on kinship care because many young people in kinship care are referred to mentoring programs, “Mentoring program staff will be better able to serve this growing population if they understand these issues and can pass that knowledge on to mentors.”

Other programs from Chittenden County represented at the conference were Connecting Youth (Charlotte) and the King Street Center (Burlington), and several staff members of Mobius were there.

“The conference was energizing!” said Gabriella Tufo Strouse, Volunteer Coordinator of the King Street Center.  “It was great being around folks who care and believe in mentoring.  We know a positive adult can make the entire difference in a child’s life.”

The next New England Regional Conference will be held in 2013.  The mentoring community eagerly awaits the announcement of which state will be the next host.

Sheila and her mentee at HowardCenter's Community Friends' apple picking event.

Sheila Fazackerly’s world revolves around young people, and she cordially invites you to make a difference in the life of one child.  She is a para-educator at Champlain Valley Union High School, and in her spare time – she is a mentor through HowardCenter’s Community Friends Mentoring program.  She has been matched for about a year with an eleven-year-old, who has enjoyed their adventures with the Mobius Card at places like the Shelburne Museum and the Cairns Arena.  “ My mentee tried ice skating for the first time at Cairns Arena,”  says Sheila, “and she was soon running rings around me.”

The pair enjoys a myriad of activities including art projects, movies, bowling, apple picking, and just spending time together at Sheila’s home in East Charlotte.  They play the piano and take the dogs on walks over the covered bridge.

It was through a chance meeting with Mobius Executive Director Andrea Torello that Sheila decided to become a mentor.  It is a choice Sheila Fazackerly is glad she made.  “To share life’s joys with a child is a gift and I am very thankful to have been given the opportunity.”

Sheila is concerned about her mentee’s younger brother, who is nine years old.   She says he desperately wants a mentor.  There are many children like him on waiting lists.  Mentoring programs around the region  are waiting for caring adults to volunteer to become mentors.

Sheila Fazackerly would love to see you join the family of mentors in our community.  “I would urge anyone who wants to make a difference to give mentoring a try! It’s really rewarding to be able to be there for a kid who doesn’t have the same opportunities as some of his/her peers.”

If you are not already a mentor, we’d love to share more information and get you on the road to becoming a mentor.  Are you up for it?

Photo courtesy of BEST Kids Inc.

Mobius is pleased to announce the launch of two new school-based mentoring programs, in South Burlington and in Essex.  The South Burlington program is a collaborative effort of the South Burlington School District, the HowardCenter’s Community Friends mentoring program, which will manage the South Burlington project, and Mobius.  Essex CHIPS will oversee the Essex program, in conjunction with the Essex Town School District and Mobius.  The hope is to make 24 matches this year in three schools in South Burlington:  Chamberlain School, Richard Marcotte Central, and Orchard School.   And the goal for Essex is 24 children matched with mentors at Essex Elementary School, Founders Memorial School, and Essex Middle School.

To help recruit mentors for the new programs, Mobius sent out postcards to households in both towns.  Already, 20 people have responded with inquiries, and 10 have committed to becoming mentors.  More inquiries come in each day.  If you are interested in mentoring in one of these programs, please contact Marissa Wilkens at [email protected].

Both new mentoring programs are made possible by grants from the Vermont Mentoring Funders Collaborative, which has funded mentoring programs in Vermont since 2008.  They currently fund 33 school-based mentoring programs.

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