Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Engaging in advocacy - local youth visit Beacon Hill!

January was National Mentoring Month, and young people from the Berkshires had a chance to make their voices heard in support of mentoring far outside the county - on Beacon Hill! Berkshire United Way supported a field trip for youth and adults involved in two of our funded programs, Railroad Street Youth Project’s RSYP Mentoring Program and Berkshire Children and Families’ Pittsfield Community Connection (PCC), to tell their stories about the positive impact of mentoring at the Massachusetts State House. 

Mentoring plays an important role in our work with young people – 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. We currently invest in four local mentoring programs; last year, those programs connected 281 young people with a caring adult.

Youth Mentoring Day is an annual advocacy day at the State House, sponsored by Mass Mentoring Partnership. A total of 15 mentees met with their respective Representatives, Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Smitty Pignetelli of south county as well as Adam Hinds’ team to advocate for the mentoring line item in the state budget. This funding helps support mentoring programs across the state.  

Deonte, a mentee in the PCC program, told Tricia Farley-Bouvier, “I’ve been with the program for a few years. It really helped me because in the beginning, I was not on the best path, I wasn’t hanging out with the best crowd. But PCC and my mentors helped me with school and applying to college. I just found out I got accepted – I’m not sure where I’m going yet. But I’m really happy to be on that path now.”

So why mentor? Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset (source:

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 at ; 413-442-6948 x 15. I hope to hear from you!

Kat Toomey
Coordinator of Positive Youth Development

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