Supporting and Honoring Matches

Simple Supports for Mentors

Although you will regularly be in contact with mentors and mentees as part of your match supervision efforts, you may also want to consider:

  • Mentor support groups. These regularly scheduled meetings allow mentors to get together to talk about what’s positive and negative with their experience. They can also provide an opportunity for your staff to help solve problems. Remind the group to be respectful of the confidentiality of their mentee when discussing how the match is going.
  • A YouthBuild mentoring program newsletter or e-newsletter. Newsletters don’t have to be expensive, full-color, glossy magazines. They can be simple and produced through the YouthBuild school’s media center or through a partnership with a local business. If your YouthBuild program already has a newsletter or e-newsletter, ask if you can add a mentoring-specific section to it.
  • Mentor mailboxes. Many school-based programs provide these for volunteers on the school site. Here mentors can pick up information from the school (for example, calendars of upcoming events or school closures or schedules of what’s being taught in classrooms) and from your program (such as your newsletter, new activities they can use and any paperwork that needs to be filled out). Because YouthBuild mentors might not be at the YouthBuild location very oft en, you might use electronic mailings, a Facebook page, or Google Group that mentors can join.

Recognizing and Honoring Matches

One of the keys to retaining mentors and encouraging youth in mentoring programs is providing praise and recognition for a job well done. Consider recognition strategies such as:

  • Highlighting selected matches in the local media. A glowing profile le in the media not only honors the wonderful work of your program’s matches, but it can be a great way to promote your program in the community and garner fresh volunteers and financial support. Talk with your local newspaper, radio, and television stations about how to celebrate and honor your matches.
  • Holding public recognition ceremonies. Most programs have annual awards banquets or picnics to celebrate everyone’s efforts. You may wish to expand your guest list to include community and business leaders, school administrators, and local dignitaries.
  • Nominating your YouthBuild mentoring program or individual matches for community awards. Most communities have award ceremonies for those doing good works through volunteering. Check with your local volunteer center or community charities to see what recognition events take place in your area.
  • Recognizing mentors in other areas of their lives. Write a note to your mentor’s employer about the value of his or her contributions and how they reflect positively on the company (or perhaps write a short note of recognition for the company newsletter). College-student volunteers can be thanked through campus groups or through the student government. All volunteers have other areas of their lives where their mentoring efforts can be celebrated.
  • Simply saying, “thank you.” Don’t underestimate the impact that simple, small acts of gratitude can have on mentor retention.