Happy International Women's Day! Today the BEST Kids team honors the amazing women that dedicate their time to volunteer in our mentoring program for youth in foster care. These women not only enact our mission in every interaction they have with the youth in our program, but also continue to inspire our staff and mentees on a daily basis.
Our mentors serve as coaches, confidants, role models, guides, and much more — but most importantly they become a friend to the youth they are matched with. By simply taking the time to be a listening ear or exploring a mutual hobby, our mentors build a lifelong connection with their mentees. "Thank you" is not enough to express how much gratitude we have for this dedication, but we'll say it anyway. To each and every mentor in our program, THANK YOU!
As we celebrate these amazing mentors, we encourage you to celebrate the women that serve as mentors and role models in your own life. Learn more about International Women's Day here. Learn more about mentoring with BEST Kids here.
Meet the Amazing Women who Made our 2021 Mentors of the Month List
Team Work Makes the Dream Work
Over the years of working at BEST Kids, I have always looked at everyone who is in the program as a team member. That includes mentees’ mentors, staff members, volunteers, board members, and advisory board members. When I estimate all of the people on our team we are about 185 individuals strong.
Every person on this team plays a valuable role. Each of us is giving mentoring a chance. I believe that mentoring means supporting and encouraging people to manage their own learning in order to help them maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. I have seen so many great examples of mentoring in our program by our team and it has perpetuated my beliefs in mentoring. The mentors in our program provide hope to our mentees and reviewing the monthly reports mentors contribute gives me hope as well.
Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.
Mentors, as we continue to grow as a team I want to share these three tips that I hope will encourage you to keep being a great team member.
Thank you to all of the team members who help keep the program moving forward.
Help your Mentee Express their Emotions
When I first started with BEST Kids, I was the Youth Engagement Specialist. In this role, I was in charge of working with the male youth in the program who had yet to be matched. I served as their temporary mentor until we were able to provide them with their own permanent one. It was this effort, working one-on-one with mentees, that helped me cultivate my passion of supporting young boys transitioning into manhood.
Throughout that time I learned a few things that helped me get my mentees to open up to me - sharing how they felt about themselves and life in general. After transitioning over to the Mentoring Support Specialist position. I would hear things from mentors about how they have struggled with connecting with their mentee.
I remember being asked “Do all youth in foster care have a difficult time sharing their feelings?” My response to that statement was or course not. Youth are humans just like adults. They all have the capacity to display a wide range of emotions. It just matters whether or not they trust you.
Let me make this clear, youth that are in foster care are not always angry or sad. So if you have that expectation of them in your mind, I challenge you to get rid of that thought process.
Here are a few steps I have adapted to connect with the mentees in the program:
Draw parallels to movies or TV shows
For many youth, movies and TV shows are one of the few venues in their lives where moments of interpersonal support and closeness are accepted. Concepts of emotional awareness are often key to successful relationships, and they can express empathy via insight gained through their own personal achievements or disappointments. This gives them an understanding of what their friends on the team may be feeling after a particularly rough day or experience.
Nurture their curiosity
Find opportunities to help your mentee reflect on the people around them that they care about. What do they like about them? What don’t they know but would like to know? Curiosity can be just as important in a friendship as empathy.
Acknowledge the moments when they cry
In your mentoring relationship with your mentee, allow them to cry in front of you, whether it is regarding a tough loss in their life or a friend said something hurtful, being there for them and willing to listen to what they have to say can be a big first step in getting them to talk about the underlying emotions.
Help them recognize their friends’ boundaries
It can seem like kids these days don’t interact with each other if they aren’t swapping friendly insults. This, though they may describe it as normal, can be an issue when someone pushes the envelope a little too far. Use these moments to explain that, if a friend seems to be upset or stops engaging, it may be time to cool it on the jokes.
Give them an emotional vocabulary
By expanding an emotional vocabulary, you are helping your mentee to better understand his feelings during particular events or exchanges. A good friend lets them borrow one of their games? That’s a demonstration of trust that he’ll take care of it and bring it back. Helping your mentee put names to these experiences can go a long way in helping them make sense of their own emotions and talk about them with others.
Teach them to repair relationship rifts
This one can be difficult, in that it may seem easier to just walk away from a difficult situation in a friendship. If your mentee is having friend troubles, talk to them about a time you had a difficult period with a close friend of yours. How did you resolve it and rebuild your relationship? You can help to set the blueprint for your mentee to follow.
Adolescence and the teen years can be challenging and confusing for what seems like a million different reasons. By helping your mentee become more comfortable with their emotions and their connections to those around them, you can help to give them the tools they may need to experience healthy and happy friendships and relationships as they grow older.
Hello BEST Kids Family,
This past year has been one of transitions for so many of us. Our mentors and mentees have transitioned between various stages of in-person and remote schooling and work. Our mentoring work has transitioned from virtual mentorship, back to in-person mentorship. And our organization itself is transitioning from the valued leadership of Executive Director Krislyn Mossman to an Interim Executive Director to help create a smooth transition - me. I'm thrilled to join the BEST Kids family as I, in turn, help BEST Kids transition to its next permanent executive director in 2022.
In the meantime, I and the BEST Kids board and staff thank you for all you have done - and continue to do - making sure we provide meaningful, one-on-one relationships for our mentees with a trusted adult. I look forward to meeting many of you over the next few months and thanking you in person, as we all look to even more opportunities to get together with mentees and each other.
Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or just want to say hello (you can reach me by email at email@example.com), and I'll keep you posted during this time of transition as we all soon welcome a new Executive Director in 2022.
BEST Kids, Inc. Celebrates GivingTuesday, Joining Millions Around the World Participating in the Global Generosity Movement
WASHINGTON, Nov. 08, 2021 - BEST Kids has been working to build healthy futures for youth in DC area foster care through one-on-one mentoring for 20 years. This GivingTuesday, the agency strives to continue this work by inspiring local DC residents to learn more about the over 120,000 children in care throughout the nation and explore ways individuals can help support and strengthen DC families.
“GivingTuesday inspires people all around the world to embrace their power to drive progress around the causes they care about, not just on one day but throughout the year.” said Asha Curran, GivingTuesday’s CEO, and co-founder. “With country and community leaders, millions of organizations, and countless givers of all kinds, GivingTuesday is creating a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”
GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and their world. GivingTuesday will kick off the generosity season this year by inspiring people to give back on November 30, 2021, and throughout the year.
People demonstrate generosity in many ways on GivingTuesday. Whether it’s helping a neighbor or stranger, showing up for an issue, or giving to causes we care about, every act of generosity counts. GivingTuesday has raised billions of dollars for critical causes around the world and gets billions of impressions on social media from people and organizations speaking up for the causes that matter to them.
Those who are interested in joining BEST Kids’s GivingTuesday initiative can visit bestkids2021.givesmart.com. For more details about the GivingTuesday movement, visit www.givingtuesday.org.
About BEST Kids, Inc.
BEST Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit mentoring organization that empowers youth in foster care to build better futures, one child at a time. Through one-on-one mentoring we encourage our youth to discover and develop their unique skills and abilities. BEST Kids works to enable youth to develop a positive sense of self, to acquire teamwork and group social skills, and to become productive members of society.
GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past nine years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.
Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give. GivingTuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity and equity around the globe.
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