One Way to Make a Difference
By Leicia Monfort, Recreation Supervisor
If asked to name one person who made a difference in your life, who would you name? Would it be your first grade teacher? Your scout leader? Or maybe a coach? What made this person stand out from the rest? How did they impact your life? How would your life be different if you never had an encounter with this person?
When I think back to the people that inspired me and changed my life for the better (other than my parents, of course), I think of the people who took time to get to know me and who spent time investing in me. I think of my Brownie Troop Leader, numerous recreation employees, Takoma Park police officers, teachers, educators, my wrestling coach, etc. These individuals went beyond their titles to impart knowledge, wisdom, guidance and support.
“Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset” (Mentoring.org).
Being a consistent role model in someone’s life gives a mentor the opportunity to offer advice, share life experiences, help navigate challenges and encourage the mentee.
- Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are: 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. (Public/Private Ventures Study, Big Brothers Big Sisters)
- Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are: 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who do not. (The Mentoring Effect, 2014)
Mentoring young people also teaches them and helps them with being able to express themselves and have healthy relationships with their parents and other adults. Mentoring is a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Good mentors take the time to get to know their mentees, to learn things that are important to them, and even the will to be changed by their relationship.
Summer is right around the corner, and young people everywhere will be out of school. This is the perfect opportunity to get out and get involved. Volunteer at a festival, coach a summer league, volunteer to teach a class with the Takoma Park Recreation Department or read stories at the Takoma Park Library. Whatever you choose to do will make a difference, so just do something. The future of our young people depends on it.
Go out and make a difference!
This article appeared in the June 2019 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.