Friday, January 11, 2019

Mentoring changes lives

You may have noticed an increase in mentoring stories on your social media feeds the past couple of weeks. January is National Mentoring Month – a time when we focus even more on the need for mentors and celebrate mentoring and the positive effects it can have.

Mentoring plays an important role in Berkshire United Way’s positive youth development work– increasing high school graduation rates, reducing teenage pregnancy, and ensuring young people have the support they need to graduate high school with a college or career plan.

The following story is from one of the four local mentoring programs Berkshire United Way invests in. Last year, those programs provided mentors for 281 young people. “Upon completing the culinary program at Railroad Street Youth Project, a mentee realized s/he wanted to focus on a possible future as a chef or baker and was matched with a professional pastry chef as a mentor. The pair worked together weekly in a local restaurant kitchen, where the mentee learned first-hand how to bake complex baked goods including crème brulee, panna cotta and rosemary lemon cake.”

Mentoring changes both lives, making it the ultimate two-way street, yet it’s often seen as a one-lane highway. Something that often goes unnoticed when someone considers becoming a mentor is the new knowledge and experience you will gain. I can say from my own experience in a mentoring relationship with a young person, I have become more patient, open-minded, and understanding of the challenges youth are facing today.

Every young person deserves a caring adult in their lives. To view a list of mentor opportunities in the Berkshires, visit this link and simply type in your zip code to view programs in your area. You may also reach out to me to learn more about mentoring opportunities by calling 413.442.6948 or sending an email to

Kat Toomey
Coordinator of Positive Youth Development

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