Saying Goodbye to Mena

Seedling Mentor ProgramSeedling_Lunch prepares and supports community volunteers like me in a school-based, research-driven relationship that has measurable results. Since it is based on best practices for mentoring children, it carefully teaches us how to begin, maintain and sometimes how to end a friendship with some of the most vulnerable children we will ever encounter. Continue reading

More Lessons from Mentoring

2014 Mentee and Me

My Seedling Mentee and Me

I have mentioned before that I mentor with an amazing program called Seedling Mentoring Program. My mentee is an 8-year-old Latina who is a child of an incarcerated parent. She is a sweet, smart little girl who has a vivid imagination and a load of potential, but she is also surrounded by barriers. Continue reading

Life Lessons from Mentoring

MentorPinAs I have shared in “Becoming a Very Best Thing,” I am mentoring a first grade girl this year through Seedling Mentor Program, a school-based, research driven and metrics based program that has great training and great support. This is a short award-winning video I think you will enjoy.

I come from a family that had its share of poverty and dysfunction, divorces and chaos. As an adult, I even had a dad in prison. The parallels between me and my little Mentee are many. You would think I would know everything I need to about how to communicate and behave constructively with her, but you would be wrong.

You see, I have forty plus years on her, and during that time I had a successful career, married a wonderful man, had two precious daughters, began my second career in philanthropy and along the way, I became financially comfortable and very removed from the culture of poverty and family crisis. I had to get re-indoctrinated and learn lessons from an adult perspective, and thank heavens, Seedling’s Promise assumes we all will need that and prepares us accordingly to be intentional mentors.

There are many books on the subject of the culture of poverty and Ruby Payne’s are “must reads” for anyone who really wants to explore it, but today I will share with you just a few things I learned this semester. Continue reading

Becoming a “Very Best Thing”

Seedling KidsI read Ken Herman’s column this morning in the Austin American Statesman, and the power of mentoring hit me once more.

You can read it here.

I hope that Mr. Herman’s friend and mentee can work something out and stay in touch, but the reality is, these are kids whose lives are in chaos. Whether the move comes for a better job or cheaper rent for their care-giving parent, they have been passed on to yet another relative, or even if it is due to the vagaries of the foster care system…it really doesn’t matter. It is another uprooting and another chance for abandonment for these children who have a parent in prison.

I started mentoring this year, after nearly a decade of helping provide opportunities for others to mentor and supporting the best site based and research driven program I know of; Seedling Mentor Program.

Why did I wait so long?  

Well, based on my experiences with another mentoring program many years ago, I thought I wasn’t good at it. You see, I had been thrown into an incredibly difficult situation pool with little preparation, training or support, and I drowned. Continue reading

Promises Fulfilled – Creating the Seedling College Scholarships

Seedling KidsIn 2007, my husband and I had an idea that would change our lives.

We had created a scholarship program for single mothers with dependent children at our local community college, funded by an endowment created by my husband’s parents. It was designed to assist single mothers start new lives after death, divorce or loss of their partner through other circumstances, and we had created it with my mother’s experiences in mind.

I knew that if something like that had been available for her, our lives could have been changed for the better when I was a child.

Success is empowering, and after years of reading the application letters and thank you letters from these women, it occurred to us to think of another group of people we could assist in a similar way.

I was President of the Board of Directors of the Seedling Foundation, and we had started a mentoring program a couple of years before that pairs highly trained and supported community volunteers with schoolchildren who have a parent in prison. Seedling’s Promise serves Pre- Kindergarten-8th grade primarily, although the matches are supported through high school.

We thought, “What if we gave scholarships at the end of middle school?”   Continue reading