Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. remains as relevant today as it did 60 years ago. The National Mentoring Month was started in 2002 by the National Mentoring Partnership & Harvard TH School of Public Health to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring in the lives of people and, thereby, inspire more people to volunteer for this project. 

Life throws curve balls at everyone and having a guide can prepare one for the challenging events ahead sometimes this advantage makes all the difference between success and failure. The American Air Force, Space Force, Fortune 500 companies, prominent nonprofit organizations, and several government officials, including U.S. Presidents, mark this day for giving back to their communities and in the process learning more from them. 

Mentoring Month, as the name suggests, runs through the whole month of January and comprises three special days to commemorate this initiative. It also has a weekly plan which includes programs by AmeriCorps and the final culmination of the National Mentoring Summit (register here). 

The three important days are- 

January 6 – I am a Mentor Day 

On this day mentors inspire their students with the words of Dr. M.L.K. Jr. and recruit others to lend a helping hand. 

January 17 – International Mentoring Day and Dr. MLK Day of Service 

The movement is promoted widely to gain global traction. The aim is to expand the universal knowledge pool and reach out to more people. On the third Monday of January, the USA observes a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday.  Dr. MLK was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement against racial discrimination.

January 27 – Thank Your Mentor Day

On this day students show their gratitude towards their mentors and this program by using hashtags #ThankYourMentor, #MentoringAmplifies, and #MentoringMonth.

Built on the pillars of clarity, communication, and commitment, young persons who are vulnerable due to their lack of exposure to practical issues in life and are dependent upon an experienced guide, are helped and inspired to transform their current state of living. 

On the other hand, mentors, too, gain immensely. Besides earning the goodwill of the community and experiencing the joy of sharing, they get to polish their presentation skills, people skills and increase their emotional intelligence.

Benefits of Mentoring

The benefits of mentoring have been studied and are documented on the MENTOR website. The statistics are more than just encouraging, they also give hope for the well-being of the entire community. Students who receive tips for all-around development, boost their personal growth, social skills, and economic prospects with their participation.

It is noted that those who meet regularly with their mentors are 55% less likely to skip a day of school and hold a 130% chance to be in leadership positions in the future. Similarly chances of enrolling in college after a gap, or coming clean after drugs/ alcohol abuse greatly increase with participation in such a program. With renewed energy, members often find themselves signing up for sports or extracurricular activities to balance their lives.  

This two-fold reaction of decreasing the influence of negative elements in life and making room for positive experiences has seen a significant reduction in the levels of depression which in most cases was toxic. 

The American Declaration of Rights says that all men are born free and equal, in dignity and in rights. They should conduct themselves as brothers one to another. The essence of this provision is rendered tangible for the common man thanks to organized efforts like National Mentoring Month. They go one step further to ensure equality by empowering every individual with equal opportunities to develop themselves and realize their maximum potential. 

In 2022 the need for such a resource was never this dire. With the ‘great resignation’, remote education and working, lack of avenues for socializing and networking, chronic stress levels of caregivers, teachers and workers, women forced to choose between childcare and employment, such a program that endeavors to mobilize information and knowledge that can be applied in real-time, adds value that is beyond a one-time volunteer service.    

View the National Mentoring Month.

Local Gilmer County Mentoring Program

CORE, Collaborate on the Rivers’ Edge, a part of the Greater Gilmer Foundation, has partnered with Gilmer High School. CORE’s goal is to match 150 students with community mentors.

Our community is faced with a shortage of youth in the workforce. Available housing is also an issue. We want more youth to stay in Gilmer County to carry on the legacy and help our community grow.

To support our community in Gilmer County and become a mentor, please visit our local Gilmer County Mentoring Program. to download an application.

Educational and Career Advice

Online learning and consultation is a growing industry. With so many careers and educational choices, it can be overwhelming for our youth to find their path.

My personal experience with college was not so great. After 12 years of college, I worked for a total of 9 months for company and 1.5 years at another before I found my passion, designing websites as an entrepreneur.

Too many people are stuck in an unfilling job or career. Getting help to understand your talents and lifestyle will help you find your path much sooner in life. Career consultants, like Diane from freedomoflearning.com, can help youth and adults define the lifestyle they want to live and match that to any required education.

Featured Image Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

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