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January 27, 2010 > Counseling Corner: Mentoring Around the Tri City Area

Counseling Corner: Mentoring Around the Tri City Area

By Anne Chan, Ph.D.

Did you know that our President recently signed a proclamation proclaiming January 2010 as National Mentoring Month? Notes President Obama: "Many of us are fortunate to recall a role model from our own adolescent years who pushed us to succeed or pulled us back from making a poor decision. We carry their wisdom with us throughout our lives, knowing the unique and timeless gift of mentorship. During this month, I encourage Americans to give back by mentoring young people in their communities who may lack role models, and pass that precious gift on to the next generation."

Many people think that they have to be experts to mentor. This is far from the truth! You do not have to have special qualifications to be a mentor. What is needed from you is a spirit of caring, understanding, commitment, respect, and support for the person you are mentoring.

Here are some ideas to participate in mentoring efforts in the Tri City area:

* Become a mentor! Volunteer as a mentor in a local mentoring program and make a real difference in the life of a Tri City individual (see below for local mentoring organizations).
* Sign your child up - in my view, every single person should have access to at least one mentor.
* Donate to local mentoring programs.
* If you are fortunate to have a mentor in your life, be sure to thank them this month. January 21st has been designated "Thank Your Mentor" Day.
* Attend a conference on mentoring.
* Whether you are a teacher, supervisor, volunteer or administrator - look around you to see who you could mentor and support.
* Ask your company if they'd be willing to partner with a mentoring organization. Many of the organizations listed below can use corporate sponsorships and partnerships.
* Read a book about mentoring - it will change your life and someone else's life in the process. I just published a practical guide to mentoring entitled Inspire, Empower, Connect: Reaching Across Cultural Differences to Make a Real Difference. This is a how-to guide to making a real difference in real people's lives - whether they are young kids, young adults, or older adults. I wrote this book to inspire people to mentor - hopefully you will find ideas to change the world through the very doable act of mentoring. A portion of my book profits will go to the American Association of University Women, Fremont Branch.
* Mentor a new person at work - it's hard to be the newbie in any situation and having someone to turn to ask questions is extremely helpful.

Many local organizations can use your help in their mentoring efforts. Many are in need of people to be mentors; all can use your donations and support.

* The Fremont Branch of the American Association of University Women has a mentoring program that reaches out to young women at Irvington High. Volunteers work with high school women to provide mentoring, support, and guidance. To learn more, contact: Vicki Baker at
* Be A Mentor is a youth mentoring organization that has been connecting at-risk youth throughout the Tri-City area with supportive, compassionate and interested adults since 1992. To apply to be a mentor, go to
* Digital Business Academy Mentoring Program at Milpitas High matches students with mentors so that students can get exposure to the very latest in technologies, workers, and workplaces. This is a program that has served over 375 students to date. To help, contact: Diane Kung, Phone: 408 635-2600 ext. 4000; Email:
* Girls Inc in San Leandro is a great resource for girls of all ages,
* Friends for Youth is a mentoring program for at-risk youth in Redwood City. They have been transforming the lives youth by pairing them with dependable adults for 30 years. To support Friends for Youth, contact:
* Spark is a San Francisco mentoring program that pairs students with professionals in their areas of interest. This gives students a hands-on feel for the world of work as well as inspires career ideas and motivation. There are many ways to support Spark's mission - see
* Out to Lunch Club at Calaveras Hills High School in Milpitas matches a student with an adult mentor. The mentor makes a commitment to take the student out to lunch each month. For more information about this program, contact Tyler Beattie at 408-635-2690, ext. 4212.

Never underestimate the power of your caring, interest, and support in the life of another person whether that person is a young child, an adult, or a peer. You can make a difference in people's lives, and mentoring is a wonderful way to do it. Please consider reaching out to one of the organizations listed above and offering your help, either by volunteering as a mentor or making a donation. As Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Anne Chan is a mentoring and career consultant in Union City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their careers, lives, and relationships, and consults with organizations on mentoring and diversity issues. She can be reached at 510-744-1781. Her website is

(c) Anne Chan, 2010.

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