Spotlight on Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) by Jackson Slaughter

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with Kristin Humphrey, the mentoring director at Partners for Youth with Disabilities.   Kristin has worked with PYD since October of 2010, and a combination of experiences led her to the program and appreciation of its niche. She first began mentoring in high school which she continued through college. Her previous work at Massachusetts General Hospital with disabled individuals combined with her previous experience as a mentor led her to join PYD. Now, she directs the mentoring program and oversees targeted recruitment for their one-on-one community-based mentoring.

PYD has seen great growth under her leadership. Kristin attributes her success to internal recruitment competition and her belief that “everyone has a network.” I couldn’t agree more. I have seen this sentiment echoed not only by other program directors, but through my own experience as well. Nearly everyone knows at least one person connected to mentoring in some way, whether it was through college programs, work mentors, or their own time as a mentee.  Just by speaking about my time with MMP, some of my friends have remembered their own mentoring experiences and have signed up to begin volunteering again.

When a young person has a mentor, they are more likely to become a mentor to someone else, and the collective support that communities give to raise and empower the younger parts speaks to the power of positive relationships. Reflecting on her time with PYD, Kristin said “it’s always fulfilling to see the impact that the matches have on each other.” She particularly enjoys the intergenerational stories. This is really what mentoring is all about. Not only can we empower individuals to reach their full potential, but we can build communities to create a sustainable cycle of support and improvement to combat the underlying and systemic forces keeping our communities from reaching new heights.

I am very grateful I had the opportunity to learn from Kristin and her world view. If you know someone with disabilities in need of a mentor or friend, or if you would like to volunteer, click here. PYD is always looking for more ways to grow and support those who need them.

Jackson Slaughter is an AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring Communications & Network Outreach Associate at Mass Mentoring Partnership.