Throughout National Mentoring Month, we will be highlighting different perspectives on The Mentor Effect from community leaders across Massachusetts. Today's perspective comes from David Beturne of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County. David is the executive director of the program, where he's worked since 2000, most recently as the director of program services.
Why do you believe mentoring is important?
Mentoring resonates with me because it directly addresses an important basic need, companionship. Who likes to feel alone? How many happy, successful individuals do you hear say “I made it on my own!” Mentors and role models are always mentioned in acceptance speeches because of their importance; not only for children but for adults as well.
Being involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than 13 years, I have been lucky enough to see how much of an impact a mentor can have. I’ve seen children’s faces light up with excitement when they meet their Big Brother or Big Sister for the first time and realize they are there just for them. Someone they can talk to, share ideas with, and learn from, a special someone who is in their life because they want to not because they have to.
Everything about mentoring just makes sense, but the reason I feel so strongly about the importance of mentoring is because it works! Mentoring is not a new fad; it’s been around for a long time. Organized mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters have been in existence for more than 100 years. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies are in all 50 states for a reason. The youth who have a mentor in BBBS are more likely to do better in school, less likely to do drugs, and are happier at home. This has been proven, not only by the testimonials of the children served, but by national research. If children are the future and if mentoring has such a profound impact on the youth served, how could it not be considered important? Doesn’t it make sense that we should do everything in our power to provide a mentor to every child who needs or wants one? What would our schools, neighborhoods, and families look like? Research indicates that things would look much brighter and I think you would agree that’s important.
Who are some of your mentors and what impact did those individuals have on your life?
I was fortunate to grow up in a close-knit family, having two loving parents and lots of aunts and uncles. As a child, I learned all that I needed by watching and listening to the caring adults in my life. Not all children are as lucky.
As I’ve grown older, my professional life has been filled with supervisors who took the time to share with me their knowledge and wisdom. My first true mentor was Mary Lou Robinson, formerly of The Children’s Study Home in Springfield. Mary Lou was the first professional to take an interest in my development as a worker and as a young adult. She took the time to get to know me and did so because she wanted to, not because she had to.
Maria Zygmont, director of The Family Stabilization Team at Brightside in West Springfield, was the next professional to step up and take interest in my development. Quite frankly Maria took a chance hiring me. I had limited experience and required a significant amount of time and patience. However, she was generous with her time and wisdom and made it her purpose to nurture and develop my skills.
Most recently Beth Russell, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County's executive director for more than 24 years was my mentor. She took the time to provide me with the tools and insight to take over upon her retirement. For more than 13 years, Beth and I worked together. In that time she shared with me everything she knew about the mentoring field and then some. Now as she transitions away from being my direct supervisor she still checks in on me to see if I have any questions or just need someone to talk to.
I am forever grateful for all the wonderful mentors I have had in my life so far. There is no doubt that without them I would not be where I am today.
To learn how you or your business can get involved, visit www.massmentors.org.