Holyoke Boys and Girls Club starts staff mentoring program

This guest post was written by Megan Grant, director of program development for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke.

For 119 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke has been in the forefront of youth development in the Holyoke community, working with young people from disadvantaged economic, social and family circumstances.

Last September, the Club kicked off its staff mentoring program, in which trained staff members mentor one or more Club members. Mass Mentoring Partnership had provided training for our staff on the basics of mentoring and the impact it can have in a youth’s life. After the training, staff were invited to join our Staff Mentoring Initiative.

To date, we have successfully matched 20 of our youth with caring staff mentors. These mentors check in every day at the Club with their mentees, keeping up to date on school or family concerns while also providing a reliable and consistent adult presence in the lives of our youth. The Club also sets aside one-on-one time every week for each match. During this time, mentors and mentees go for a walk, shoot hoops, play cards, or just spend time together.

We had a special event in late December which allowed all of the mentors and mentees to get together and celebrate the amazing work happening in this program. 24 mentors and mentees travelled to Boston to attend the Celtics vs. Pistons basketball game. Our program members were also invited down to the floor while the teams warmed up pregame!

[caption id="attachment_658" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Justin and Sam before the Celtics game in December"][/caption]Youth Development worker Justin Bresnahan attended the game with his mentee, Sam. When asked about his experience so far as a mentor, Justin said, “I really value the one-on-one time...I am surprised by Sam every day. He is the teenage version of me.”

He says the best moment int heir match so far was when he told Sam that they were going to the Celtics game. "Seeing his face - I felt like I had just given a kid gold. And at the game, when we were down on the floor watching the warm-up, it was 100% pure joy for both of us.”

Sam previously never had a mentor, and did not know much about mentoring before he joined this program. When asked how he felt about the program so far, he said, “It’s nice. I like Justin because he is so enthusiastic about things...and is always there to help me when I need it.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, founded in 1892, is an affiliate of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, one of the nation’s oldest and premiere youth organizations. Today, the Club serves approximately 4,000 young people. The Club has an extensive tutoring program and a variety of activities ranging from basketball, volleyball and swimming to table tennis, arts and crafts, computers and media arts. For more information please call Megan Grant at 413-534-7366 x 100.