I have been a Mentor Me (MM) volunteer mentor for over 14 years and find the experience very enriching. Being able to alter the course of a youngster's life for the better with so little time is an unbelievable reward. MM is a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth achieve their best in school and in life by providing them with one-on-one, long-term adult mentors.
Operating in four Petaluma and Novato school districts and serving youth aged 5-17, trained adult mentors spend at least an hour a week with their mentees in 17 Mentor Centers located in partner schools and at the MM Cavanagh Recreation Center.
Since 2014, MM has managed the Cavanagh Recreation Center in Petaluma and has turned it into the go-to place for K-12 low-income, at-risk youth mentees and their mentors who can visit year-round to engage in academic, social and recreation activities, and especially during times when they are generally unsupervised (after school, summer and school breaks) and prone to engaging in risky behavior such as drug use, alcohol use, sexual activity, and gang activity. Mentees and their mentors can participate in educational enrichment activities (cooking classes, art/music programs, sports), find academic tutoring services, participate in career exploration activities, and receive college admissions coaching. The Center also serves as the MM administrative offices.
All youth receiving mentoring in the program, regardless of household income level, have at least one environmental factor that puts them at-risk of school failure, substance abuse, economic dependency, and/or incarceration. The demographics for the youth served by the program are as follows:
• 87% are economically disadvantaged
• 29% of the youth are from families where one or more parents have been incarcerated
• 76% come from single-parent households
• 67% have dealt with violence in their homes
• 58% are male and 42% are female
• 48% are Caucasian; 38% are Latino; 7% are African-American; 4% are Native American; 2% are Asian; and 1% are Pacific Islander
• Many live with family members with drug/alcohol abuse problems, face language acquisition barriers and family mobility challenges
No fees are ever charged to the families of the youth served and MM does not receive any funding from state or government agencies. The programs are funded entirely by generous donations and grants from individuals, foundations, businesses, service organizations, and special event rental income from the Cavanagh Recreation Center.
A real indicator for the success of the program is that 96% of the mentors complete their 2-year commitment and, 90% of the mentors continue for three or more years!
The expected outcomes for each mentored youth in the program are:
• Increased academic performance
• Improved school attendance
• Greater classroom engagement
• Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use
• Decreased violent behavior
• Improved perceptions of parental relationship
• Decreased gang involvement
• Graduation from high school and seamless transition into post-secondary education
My journey with Mentor Me Petaluma began 10+ years ago mentoring 2 second graders and I now serve on the Board of Directors.. To make a commitment of simply one hour per week to "show up" and "care" for an at risk youth and see first hand the positive impact it has, is simply extraordinary. I am so honored to be a part of this incredible organization.
I am a board member for Mentor Me as well as an elementary school principal. In the latter role I get to see first hand the positive effect a mentor has on a child. In addition to the amazing work Mentor Me does with children, the organization adds to the culture of our friendly, welcoming town!
As an educator my entire career, I have witnessed the impact of consistent caring adults in a child's life. As president of the Sonoma County Board of Education and a mentor for a young boy, I experience both the programmatic impact Mentor Me has on hundreds of children and the impact a mentor has on one child. It's powerful, nurturing and healing. I'm also on the Board of Directors of Mentor Me helping guide its vision and outreach. This organization is embedded in the elementary and secondary schools of Petaluma providing students with skills and the confidence that they can succeed academically and socio-emotionally.
I've been involved with Mentor Me since one week after I moved to the Petaluma area over 5 years ago. I love my time every week with my mentee, and seeing her grow up to become more confident in who she is and what she wants to create with her life has changed my life. I also stepped up to be a Board member 4 years ago, and I'm honored to be part of moving the mission forward. The impact of Mentor Me extends far beyond providing an adult mentor for students at risk. The ripple effect of the work of the mentors, the E.D., the staff, the Board, and the many other volunteers that step up is broader than we may ever know. It touches my heart to know I play a part in that impact, and I'm proud to be an integral part of Mentor Me and to serve the youth in the community.
I've nominated students to this amazing program, observed the benefits of mentor relationships as a classroom teacher, felt the impact of multiple mentorships on a campus as an elementary principal and now proudly serve on the Board of Directors for Mentor Me. It's an astounding group of dedicated citizens focused on matching students with a trusted adult with whom they might build a lasting relationship. Fundraising, goal setting, hard work and pure joy. I don't know another organization quite like Mentor Me. Proud to be a part of it all.
Review from Guidestar
As a Mentor I'm pleased to have the opportunity to help my mentee in any way I'm able. In the short time we have been together, it is apparent to me that she appreciates having someone in her life that she can depend on and trust to always show up for her. I have also been on the Board of Directors for the last 2 years and am constantly impressed by our Executive Director, Deb Dalton and her talent for her work. In addition to Deb, our Board is well skilled in quite a variety of ways. I'm honored to work with Mentor Me and honored to be a Mentor!
Review from Guidestar
As a volunteer for Mentor Me, I have to say that meeting with my mentee each week brings joy to both me and my mentee. I love seeing my mentee as he brings with him a big smile and hug each time we meet. I am a caring adult and friend to him just as has flourished into a beautifully caring and loving young boy. Thanks to Val Richman, Executive Director for building this wonderful organization for children who need that something extra in their lives -- a caring and loving friend that they can depend on.
I have mentored with this organization for the pass 6 years.I know what good it has done for both me and my mentees.One of my kids graduates High school this year and is going to the junior college(something that was far from his thoughts just 2 years ago).Both have avoided the gang problems that exist in are town,tho it has been so close to their lives.It has made me feel so good to have helped them both and to know that they want and need me to be in their lives.
This mentoring program began at the elementary school where my kids went to school, and one of the teachers asked me to come back one hour a week to mentor a 2nd grade boy. They have a mentor center set up with games, toys, books, sports equipment, art supplies, a cooking area and a place to just hang out and talk. We do puzzles, play with building blocks and cook. We sometimes talk but not always. We also play chess and cards. The mentor center coordinator is there is help when I need her. My mentee's teacher is always available to talk, too.
This organization provides a valuable service to children and families in the community by matching adult mentors with school-age kids who need extra support.