A strong mentor for a young person usually has a collection of positive traits.
A mentor can be someone with a listening ear or who offers guidance. They can provide different perspectives.
A mentor who helps direct young people can have an arduous task. For mentees who might be on the cusp of a poor decision, the way a mentor answers that challenge can be critical.
A mentor can challenge the thoughts and actions of a mentee and shield them from adverse actions.
Michael Guerin said that many of the mentors who helped shape him into the person he is now never knew the positive and long-lasting impact they had on his life.
“I was not a trusting kid when I was younger. I fully understand what it can be like for a mentor to try and break through the shells, shield wall and sometimes fortresses that may exist with some of the youth we mentor,” Guerin said.
Now a mentor with The 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, Guerin knows patience plays an integral part in working with students in the program.
“There may be thousands of individuals that have the knowledge and insight to be a great mentor,” he said. “However, (they) do not posses the patience to truly enrich someone else’s life because they cannot connect or meet that individual where they are.”
The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life for the community they serve. Mentoring is the core service of the organization, which is the largest network of African American male mentors in the nation.
“Through our platform of Mentoring The 100 Way Across A Lifetime, we provide programmatic services in education, health and wellness, economic empowerment and leadership development,” Guerin said. “Which makes a fundamental difference in the lives of the youth we touch and the communities we serve.”
The group works to influence and transform the lives of underrepresented and disenfranchised youth, with a focus on African American youth.
For Guerin, building a strong structure is critical to sustain trust between a mentor and mentee. He said trustworthiness, accountability, caring and an overall sense of uplifting spirit are some of the core needs for an effective mentor.
“I believe that care and trust is where it begins,” he said. “The mentor – mentee relationship generally develops on the foundation of these, although it can take time to develop.”
The importance of a positive mentor can not be understated. He said a mentor is someone that can help you through your challenges, face obstacles with positive insights and redirect you when the path being traveled may bring harm.
“The truth is, a lot of times either family members can not be there, may not possess the knowledge to truly help or may even be the cause of some of the challenges being faced,” Guerin said. “Sometimes having that outside looking-in perspective can bring enlightenment, seeing angles not previously seen and bring out thoughts and feelings that one may otherwise be uncomfortable sharing with a family member.”
For 100 Black Men of Charlotte, a new program called RELATE has quickly developed some positive results. The mentors share their own stories of their past and the feelings, emotional tolls of adverse environments, how they had to overcome challenges and how their personal journey got them to where they are today.
“After sharing our stories from humble beginnings, the personal trials and adverse childhood experiences, I had student approach me,” Guerin said. “(A) true connection was felt. I let him know that his experience may be unique, but he is not alone in his fight and there are others that have overcome these same situations.”
That conversation was the inception of what can develop into a trusted bond between mentor and mentee.
“Knowing that I can reach at least one young person at this level of complete transparency and vulnerability and build it into a powerful moment of strength and resilience makes everything we do worth it.”
For The 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte, this relationship is just one of the many successful exchanges between mentor and mentee.
“All of our mentees are special,” he said. “Our leaders that we have throughout The 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte are real men, giving real time and garnering real results with our youth and community.”
A valuable resource in Charlotte for the mentoring community is the Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance. The alliance educates mentoring organizations about best practices and mentoring standards, ignites impactful and enduring mentor-mentee relationships and connects Charlotte’s mentoring community.
The Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance is seeking nominations for deserving individuals or organizations that have made a difference in the lives of Charlotte children and youth through a commitment to mentoring.
To learn about mentoring or meet others who are interested in mentoring, you can attend a Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance Mentor Mingle, and connect with individuals and organizations who can provide mentor and mentee opportunities.
If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte public affairs manager, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.
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