Volunteer mentors are at the heart of a successful San Francisco Achievers experience. But, who mentors the mentors? Who supports, trains and helps them help their students? The Mentor Committee, led by mentoring guru Linda Mornell, applied its practical experience and concluded, “Use the best resource there is…other mentors!” By pooling the knowledge and insight of people currently mentoring students, SFA created an effective reference tool from which volunteers can learn.
So, on February 27, 2015 SFA brought its idea to life with a Mentor Mixer, hosted by Board Treasurer Gregory Weitzman. The first of multiple forums for idea exchange, the purpose of the initial session was to get everyone acquainted and comfortable with one another. At first glance an observer may not see individuals with much in common. Executive Director Gregory Collins strongly believes “it takes a village,” and indeed a broad representation of the village showed up! Of the more than 25 people present, there were a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and skill sets. A show of hands revealed that although the majority currently lived in the East Bay and on the peninsula, most were not native to California. Hailing from the Northeast, East Coast, Midwest, Florida, Southwest and places in-between the enthusiastic group of men and women coalesced around a strong desire to help others and a realization that SFA offers a successful approach to help young African American men.
With the broad talents and professions represented among the participants, higher education is clearly a passion and unifying factor. The attendees’ college experiences varied; big, small, distant, local, public, private, etc. Some had been expected to attend college as generations of their family members had done before them. Others were the first in their family to graduate. It was undeniable everyone at the table believed a college education was critical to a person’s life journey… and they were willing to commit their time to help an Achievers Scholar get that experience. Hosting or attending a Mentor Mixer may not seem risky, and it’s probably not. Sharing ideas among people who value education is indeed rather safe. What makes these mentors admirable risk takers is their willingness to offer their time and talent to an Achiever. They commit to him for several year through the good times and tough times continually advancing toward the breakthrough of accomplishment. Why? Because our young men are definitely worth the risk!