Greater Waco Chamber Looks to Engage Volunteers throughout January
WACO, Texas – January is National Mentoring Month, and this year the Greater Waco Chamber is celebrating 10 years of the mentoring movement and expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with adults through its Leadership, Education & Development (LEAD) program.
“Mentoring is a critical part of developing positive, long-lasting relationships within the Greater Waco community,” said Rachel Martinez, director of leadership development at the Greater Waco Chamber. “Mentoring is proven to have a positive effect on academic, social and economic outcomes for young people. However, while we have many students looking for mentors, we do need more caring adults to get engaged and become mentors.”
According to Mentoring.org, one in three young people are growing up without a mentor. When a mentor is able to connect with a young person, at-risk youth are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school, 55 percent more likely to enroll in college and 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using drugs.
National Mentoring Month, each January, allows for unique engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor. This year, with the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in making a real life impact. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through those real life decisions.
In our community, the Greater Waco Chamber’s LEAD program is connecting local high school students with business mentors.
“The LEAD program is a business and education partnership that pairs high school students with business leaders in the Greater Waco area,” said Joe Nesbitt, LEAD founder, mentor and program sponsor. “By improving the students’ knowledge and awareness of potential career paths, we hope they will be motivated to graduate high school and pursue some form of higher education, which in turn ensures greater employability and quality of life.”
LEAD pairs Waco High School, Rapoport Academy, Harmony Science Academy, University, La Vega and Midway high school students with business leaders to foster mentoring relationships that educate and expose students to various business fields.
Since launching 10 years ago, the program has achieved a 100 percent graduation rate with all students having gone onto higher education. The LEAD program began with one mentor and five students. Currently, the program has grown to include 84 mentors and 175 students.
Several January dates are highlighted as part of National Mentoring Month in an effort to create opportunities for engagement and promote the mentoring movement.
- Jan. 12, 2017: I Am A Mentor Day. A day for volunteer mentors to celebrate their role and reflect on the ways mentees have enhanced their world. #LEADMentors
- Jan. 17, 2017: International Mentoring Day. A day of international conversations on social media where photos, video and powerful mentoring stories messages are shared.
- Jan. 19, 2017: #ThankYourMentor Day. A day for all who have real life mentoring experiences to thank those who helped them on their path to adulthood and beyond.
National Mentoring Month is led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from the Highland Street Foundation. Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a LEAD mentor, contact Rachel Martinez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-757-5633.
About the Greater Waco Chamber:
The Greater Waco Chamber is a business leadership organization that advances a progressive and visionary agenda for economic growth and quality of life. The Chamber prepares and markets Greater Waco for the businesses and jobs of the future and enhances the quality of life of the community by promoting strategic development. For more information, visit WacoChamber.com.