Can mentors really make a difference? You bet.

mentorsIn fact, a recent national survey of young people on mentoring relationships called The Mentoring Effect found that young people who are mentored experience significant positive life outcomes related to academics, community involvement and leadership, and career development. (They also are more likely to volunteer within their communities than those who weren’t mentored.)

This month marks the 15th annual observation of National Mentoring Month. But it didn’t take a Presidential Proclamation for Junior Leagues to recognize the importance of mentoring in enriching the lives of both children and women in their communities; Junior Leagues have a long history of creating and participating in mentoring programs. A short sample of current and diverse programs in other Junior Leagues across the country includes:

The Junior League of San Diego matches highly committed members with transition-age foster youth on a 1:1 ratio. Group events also are held with mentor/mentee teams as well as workshops on topics such as budgeting, nutrition, cooking and career planning.

For over 10 years, Junior League of Dallas volunteers have mentored homeless teen mothers at Promise House’s Wesley Inn, a group residence for as many as 12 teen mothers and their babies. In addition to providing fun outings for the young women, the volunteers act as regular, positive adult influences in their lives.

In a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters, the mentoring program of the Junior League of Corpus Christi pairs JLCC members with students in their junior year of high school. This year, 10 League members are going above and beyond their required volunteer commitment to be a positive influence in the lives of young women by giving them the invaluable gift of friendship and the opportunity to see beyond their everyday world and dream big!

The LifeCoach program of the Junior League of Buffalo provides one-on-one mentoring to single female heads of households living in poverty. Designed to inspire women to make positive choices to enrich their lives, the program also provides informational seminars and workshops to address topics that empower the women and in turn improve their lives and the lives of their children.

Lunch Bunch pairs members of the Junior League of Wilmington (NC) with students at DC Virgo Middle School to offer companionship and mentoring during the lunch hour.  JLW members seek to be a positive influence while providing students with the encouragement, guidance, and inspiration needed to achieve their academic goals.  They look forward to building long-term relationships with the students as they advance through the eighth grade

The Junior League of Little Rock is currently working on two mentoring projects. Families and Community Together (FACT), begun in 2008, pairs JLLR mentors with pregnant and parenting female teens of the Young Moms/Healthy Families program at the Centers for Youth and Families’ Parent Center to encourage the participants to stay in school, delay future pregnancies, and teach positive parenting skills. Girls Realizing Opportunity Within (GROW) is designed to help adolescent girls establish and improve their self-esteem and self-image in order to develop an inner confidence and to promote positive life choices. Over the past several years, GROW has mentored over 325 young women.

The EmBe Women’s Leadership Program is a service project of the Junior League of Sioux Falls. The mission of the program is to facilitate the development of emerging female leaders by utilizing the experiences and skills of established women to extend a hand-up to young women who will follow. Open to women of all ages who are interested in progressing to the next level of personal and professional development, the participants develop an individual success plan that includes personal and professional goals and ways to achieve them.

And the Junior League of Tulsa will be holding its third annual mentorship luncheon in April. “The Magic of Mentorship: Developing the Potential of Women” invites women to bring their own mentors to this celebration of the power of mentorship and its importance in building strong female leaders.


*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.

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