Do You Have What it Takes to be a Mentor?
Do you have intellectual curiosity? Do you have compassion for others? Do you have determination to succeed? Can you model these traits to a youth? Then you have what it takes to be a successful mentor and help a youth thrive according to CNCS. Commitment is essential. Numerous duration studies have shown that longer-term mentoring relationships have more benefits associated with them than shorter-term. This makes sense since it takes time to build trust and report. Committing yourself to at least a year (many programs require this) will increase benefits. Frequent, regular contact is also important for the same reasons as duration. Close relationships occur by engaging in shared activities and providing ongoing social and emotional support. With the advent of new ways to communicate such as SKYPE, people are able to be in contact in a myriad of non-traditional ways.
Although being involved as a mentor to a specific youth or group of youths is important, it’s also good to remember that as public safety professionals we have the chance to influence children on a daily basis. Since I’ve been training for the 2013 Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, I’m often at my gym in gear. About a week ago, I was putting on my turn-outs in the locker room when I noticed a small girl watching me from a few lockers over. Her mother noticed she was staring and asked her, “Do you know what she is? She’s a fire fighter.” I stopped messing with my gear long enough to look over at her. I smiled. She smiled. Maybe she’ll be a fire fighter some day.