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by Kaitlin Ahern

Related: Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, mentoring, Girls Write Now, at-risk and underprivileged kids,

With a full daily schedule, signing up to be a mentor is a big commitment and extra responsibility. Why do it? Local mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, and Girls Write Now share why the commitment is worth it.

mentor-and-mentee-making-jewelryBeing a mentor is a big time commitment and an extra responsibility that may seem daunting when added on to an already full schedule. So why do it? “The most common thing I hear from our mentors is that they’re getting more out of it than the girls are,” says Maya Nussbaum, founder of Girls Write Now. “They get a chance to really make a noticeable, specific difference in their mentees’ lives, and that’s very gratifying.”


 "Volunteering for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program of Rockland County has been a life-altering experience for me. I started the program seven years ago thinking that I was making a selfless contribution to give back to my community and to mentor a child in hopes of ‘making a difference.’ Looking back at my experience as a mentor throughout the years, I feel more selfish than selfless. Selfish because I have benefited, as much, if not more, from this program than my Little Brother has. I have learned how to be a positive role model, an advisor, an educator, a listener, and a problem-solver. I have taken on these and so many other important and crucial roles, which has helped to give a child feelings of comfort, stability, trust, and assurance in his life. Being a mentor…has drastically improved not only my Little Brothers life, but my own.”

—Lauren, one of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County’s longest-serving matches


“I can’t imagine her not being in my life. Every time I’m frustrated or tired, she’ll be in my car for 5 minutes and I’ll be hysterical laughing, because that’s just who she is. And I’ll think, ‘Now I know why I do this.’”

—Barbara Cohen, Long Island mom of one and Big Sister to Katie for the last six years


“I’ve been doing this for so long, I can’t imagine not doing it. Giving kids a place to come that’s safe and fun and different than the other environments they’re in—I didn’t have a place like this when I was growing up. It’s gratifying. And a lot of things I’ve learned working with these kids have helped me as a father. I’m more patient than ever. And I do feel like I’m making a difference. I always struggle with how to define what a mentor is, but it’s really a mesh of everything you do.”

—Dan Isenberg, father of two and cultural arts director for the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester


“So much is surprising about being a mentor. You come in thinking ‘I’m going to be the one doing the teaching,’ but I’ve learned so much from Monica. I feel inspired by her. My own creativity has been encouraged by her. You don’t think going into it that it’s going to change you, but it does.”

—Elaine Stuart-Shah, a Brooklyn-based Girls Write Now volunteer who has been a mentor to 16-year-old Monica for two years


“There is nothing more rewarding than realizing that you have truly made a difference in a young person’s life. No feeling is like the companionship that you experience by spending time with someone who truly looks up to you.”

—Mitch Tobak of Greenwich, a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Connecticut


Also see:

The Mentor Effect: Helping At-Risk and Underprivileged Kids


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