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If you are thinking about resolutions for 2013, consider becoming a volunteer mentor. A mentor is an individual, usually older, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual’s development.
Whether you participate in a mentorship program sponsored by a professional or community organization, a successful mentoring relationship can be a life changing experience for both you and the person with whom you are matched.
For example, the Peel chapter of the Human Resources Professional Association offers its members a formal mentoring program that allows less experienced HR professionals (protégés) to gain knowledge from more experienced professionals (mentors).
There is a formal matching process and participants are expected to connect regularly (monthly at minimum) for six months. They work towards set goals, while clearly defining their roles and protocols for working through any problems. Creation of an action plan is encouraged to ensure the goals identified by the protégé are met.
The Law Society of Upper Canada also has a mentorship program that matches volunteer lawyers with those interested in becoming lawyers; practising lawyers in need of advice; or law students to provide assistance an advice with their careers.
One component of the program is the Equity and Diversity Mentorship Initiative that encourages students from diverse backgrounds to consider law as a career by providing matches with lawyers for high school and university students with lawyers.
Another opportunity for making a difference is to mentor immigrants who are trying to establish careers in Canada. The Mentoring Partnership is a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council that brings together recent skilled immigrants and established professionals in occupation-specific mentoring relationships.
Now operating for over five years in the Greater Toronto Region, The Mentoring Partnership has facilitated over 7,000 mentoring relationships between skilled immigrants and established Canadian professionals.
The ALLIES National Mentoring Initiative in partnership with TD Bank Financial Group, is bringing mentoring programs for skilled immigrants to other cities in Canada.
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Mentoring young people can be particularly gratifying. Kids Now is aimed at students in grades 7 and 8. One volunteer mentor leads each group of 10 students in a 12 week curriculum based program that builds self-confidence; teaches conflict resolution; and helps participants set goals and improve communication.
The program takes an anti-bullying focus and includes interactive games, skill-based activities and group discussions.
COSTI Immigrant Services also has a youth mentoring program designed to connect youth with community volunteers who offer support and encourage young people to develop their skills, improve their performance and attain personal goals.
The mentor-mentee pair connects for at least 2 hours a week for 16 weeks via email, telephone, and/or face to face.
These are only a few examples of formal mentorship programs looking for mentors in the GTA. By becoming a mentor in 2013, you can “pay it forward” with an invaluable gift of time that keeps on giving.
Related: Why charity should be part of the holiday season