Think back to your own childhood. There are probably one or two adults outside your family whom you remember as having made a difference for you, even if only just by being there. Now it is your turn to be there for a child.
Mentors with Talbot Mentors make an initial one-year commitment, with the goal of spending at least 1-2 hours a week with a child they are mentoring.
Every child needs a variety of adults that he/she can go to for support such as relatives, neighbors, teachers, a coach, or a mentor. Unfortunately, many kids today have few opportunities to spend positive time with adults. By volunteering as a mentor, you can help increase the network of support available to a child in need in Talbot County.
Mentors are men and women from all walks of life who share an interest in children. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old. Mentors are interviewed, carefully screened and thoughtfully matched with students, taking interests and life experiences of each into consideration. Initial orientation, ongoing training, and professional support help volunteers with the challenges that can naturally arise in any relationship.
Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction. (John C Crosby)
All kids need a little hope, a little help and somebody who believes in them. (Magic Johnson)
When, why and by whom was Talbot Mentors founded?
TM was founded in 1997 by Phil Kirby, a retired insurance executive, who saw a need in the community for mentoring. It started as a small program of 10 that eventually grew into an afterschool program at the middle school; start-up funds came from the Mid Shore Community Foundation. In 2006 the organization became a 501(c)3. Talbot Mentors now serves all the schools in Talbot County.
How does Talbot Mentors define success?
The longevity of mentor/mentee relationships is a measure of their success. Approximately eighty percent have been matched for one year or more. TM’s numbers speak for themselves:
- 15 matches in 2015
- 8-one year matches
- 10- two year matches
- 8- three year matches
- 8- four year matches
- 9- five year matches
- 3-six year matches
- 4-eight year matches
- 2-nine year matches
- 2-ten year matches
- 1-eleven year match
Why does a volunteer mentoring program need staff?
Talbot Mentors serves not only the participants, but the parents and the mentors. While mentoring is about meeting children’s needs, a critical part of any mentoring program is the support and supervision it provides to volunteer mentors.
Do the schools have staff that could do the work offered by Talbot Mentors?
No. We work closely with Talbot County Public Schools, and this partnership is the key to the success of the TM program. We rely on guidance counselors and other staff in identifying new mentees, and continue to network with staff after the matches are made. However, what Talbot Mentors offers is different from services provided by the schools.
It is also important to remember that mentors are volunteers, not paid staff with training in mental health services, family counseling or juvenile justice. While mentoring is a simple concept, it is not always easy. By proactively monitoring the relationships through contact with the mentors, mentees and their parents, TM enables the matches last longer and strengthens the mentoring experience for both the adults and kids.
Is Talbot Mentors affiliated with any state or national mentoring programs?
Talbot Mentors is not affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), although we use BBBS as a model in developing our program.
Do mentors focus on academic tutoring?
While mentors may spend time helping with homework or teaching certain skills, the relationship is far more than that. Positive relationships with adults are critical in every child’s development. Talbot Mentors works to meet this need by finding mentors for kids who can use an additional adult friend.
We train our mentors to take a “developmental approach,” in which the focus is on building trusting relationships with their mentees. As one researcher notes, “Volunteers who take time to develop real relationships with youth are much more likely to promote changes that other volunteers only pursue.”
While the focus is on spending time together, there are many wonderful opportunities in the weekly mentoring visits to reinforce what kids are learning at school. For instance, baking and woodworking projects require reading directions and making measurements. Volunteers also help kids practice important life skills that many of us may take for granted, such as shaking hands and writing thank you notes.