January is National Mentoring Month, and this year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Taos and Colfax Counties are celebrating. Because of the support of our local communities, we matched more young people with caring adults in 2017 and raised funds to support these matches.
This year, with the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond digital engagement and become involved in real life. 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 real-life decisions.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior, such as drug use.
These young people are also:
• 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college.
• 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.
• 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
• More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.
As impressive as these statistics are, what really helps to understand what mentoring is about is to experience it firsthand, either as a mentor or a mentee.
After a year of serving as regional director for BBBS in Taos, I decided to become a mentor myself. I have worked with young people in many different capacities over the years, but mentoring for BBBS is different.
I get to take off my professional hat and be a friend by being myself. I recently met my little sister for the first time, and we went on our first activity at the Fire Playce in Taos. We had fun over the paints and messes we were making. As we are in the getting-to-know-you stage, we haven't yet developed that comfort level that comes with time, but I am sure it will. It is amazing how much we both have in common in spite of the difference in years. The volunteer process is pretty easy, and our Program Specialist, Oralia, walks the volunteers through it step-by-step, as well as matching the participants with their interests and desires. For me, I wanted to be matched with an older Little Sister as I have always worked with teens and feel comfortable with that age group. Oralia also provides support afterwards with regular match support to make sure the relationship has every chance of being a lasting one.
A highlight of National Mentoring Month is Thank Your Mentor Day on Jan. 25. On that day everyone is encouraged to thank and honor their mentors by contacting their mentors directly to express appreciation, become a mentor in their own community, make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program, or post a tribute online. I would love to see your mentoring story, and if you post a tribute online on our Facebook page at Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region Taos / Colfax, I will print your story and add it to the bulletin board at the Taos Library as a special tribute. Or you can email me your tribute at Karen.Koyote@bbbsmountainregion.org.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou
To learn more about the role mentoring plays in our community and to find volunteer opportunities visit bbbsmountainregion.org or call 575-770-5751 or 575-779-0003.