Mass Mentoring Partnership and the Highland Street AmeriCorps Ambassadors of Mentoring hosted the 10th annual Youth Mentoring Day at the State House on January 21. This year's theme was The Mentoring Movement: The Road to Relationships. During the program, the Ambassadors of Mentoring highlighted four examples of how mentoring and empowering youth-adult relationships affect so many lives. Here is one of those stories:
Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon, nearly 20 school-aged inner city youth make their way into the basement hall of St. Christopher’s Parish in Dorchester. They come to take part in Earthen Vessels’ tutoring and mentoring afterschool program. The calm in the room and the level of engagement between each of the students and their academic mentors proves how much these young people value this one-on-one time.
Each pair spends the first 15 minutes of their two-hour session catching up with one another and sharing their joys and concerns. Following that, the bulk of their time is spent on academics, whether it’s a challenging homework assignment, project, exam preparation, working to build a new skill, or a combination of these things. Because reflection is a significant part of the programming at Earthen Vessels, the entire group comes together for the last 15 minutes for a circle time where the students and mentors share the joys and concerns they discussed earlier in the session.
This scene at St. Christopher’s for the past 20-plus years has recently been mirrored at Harbor Point on the Bay, a housing complex just across the street from St. Christopher’s that houses 400 low-income families. EV launched a second after school site at Harbor Point in the fall of 2014. The program started after tenants, the housing task force and the developer came to a tutoring session at St. Christopher’s and asked what it would take to open an EV site at Harbor Point. Earthen Vessels currently serves 27 Harbor Point students through their new partnership and they are looking forward to serving ten additional students within the next year. And while numbers and growth are significant, the most meaningful aspect of this new partnership is the way it builds on the quality of the relationship EV has with their students.
EV’s reach extends beyond the walls of their tutoring sites and the two-hour weekly sessions. The program regularly engages the students’ families and their educators to advocate for each child’s success. The Harbor Point partnership provides EV with additional support through referrals and guidance. This new relationship between Harbor Point and Earthen Vessels is just one example of how the mentoring movement creates a road to relationships.