Frequently Asked Questions
- How long of a commitment am I required to make?
It's impossible for us to put a time limit on any personal relationship, but we hope that your goal is to make a serious commitment to mentoring. Many of our kids come to us with separation or abandonment issues. We feel it is important to contribute to their lives positively and regularly. This commitment will allow you to see them grow and mature.
- When was the Mentoring Program established?
The Stand-By-Me Mentoring Program was originally established at Flowery Elementary School in January 1996, funded through a three-year grant from the California State Secretary for Education.
Today, we are proud to say the program has grown tremendously, and we are currently serving children at Dunbar, Flowery, El Verano, Sassarini and Prestwood Elementary Schools, Altimira and Adele Harrison Middle Schools as well as Sonoma Valley High School. In addition, we have recently expanded our services to Hanna Boys Center.
- Do you offer any special training prior to matching me with a child?
Once your screening process has been completed, there is an initial three-hour training session with the Executive Director to orient you to the program. Following that session, you will be called in for an interview by the Program Facilitator at the school site where you will be mentoring to determine an appropriate child for whom you will be matched. The Program Facilitator will go over the Mentor handbook, give you a tour of the Mentor Center and school campus and match you with your Mentee. Bring your datebook, as you will discuss your weekly mentoring schedule at this meeting.
- How much time per week is required?
We ask for one-hour a week during the scheduled school day. Once a relationship has been established, we encourage Mentors and Mentees to get together off-campus, provided they have the approval of the parent/guardian.
- Does the parent of the child also get involved with the matching process?
Parents must sign a consent form to allow their child to participate and are encouraged to play an active role with the Mentor and the program.
- Does the child's teacher also get involved?
Absolutely. If the child is having difficulty in a certain subject, the teacher may communicate with you verbally or in writing, asking you to work on that specific area of academics.
- I may not have a lot of experience with kids and may be unclear as to how to spend my one-hour per week with my mentee. Is there help in this area?
Yes, we do have a structure that we ask you to follow during your weekly visit. We urge you to spend the first 1/2 hour working on academics, and devote the last half hour to building a trusting, caring friendship. The Mentor Centers are equipped with board games, art projects, puzzles, cards, computers and sporting equipment to help keep things fun.
- What if the relationship with my mentee is not working out, and we are not connecting?
We ask that mentors give the new relationship a fair amount of time before deciding that it may not be a good match. Some children take a longer time to develop trust in adults, and may be testing you in the beginning to see if you really are going to be committed to showing up when you say you will. However, if you have made every effort to connect but the chemistry isn't there, we have respectful ways to provide a "happy ending with one mentor and a new beginning with another."
- Are there any ways in which volunteer Mentors are recognized?
Over the years, we have recognized Mentors in a variety of different ways. We have hosted Mentor Appreciation Dinners with guest speakers that have included Assemblyman Joe Nation, Senator Wes Chesbro, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, Dr. Andy Mecca, Director of the California Mentor Foundation, and Dr. Jim Kooler, former Director of the Governor's Mentoring Partnership. Mentors are also recognized by the Superintendent of Schools, Principals, Chief of Police and the Mayor of Sonoma.
- But by far, the greatest reward of mentoring is the feeling you get when you know that your contribution of time is having a positive impact on the life of a child.