There are many reasons to be proud of the community of Sonoma, but among those is one that is often underappreciated: the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance. It’s not because people haven’t heard about it. With 26 years and 2,200 matches, nearly everyone in our valley knows someone who is either mentor or mentee. And it isn’t because we don’t have brilliant things to say about the program. Our mentors stay with their kids for an average of 9 years and close to 100% of those kids graduate high school. (Ask anyone. That’s amazing!) We’ve received many national awards and other communities have copied our practices to great success. Not to mention the financial support of devoted angels throughout the valley. (How many times can one write the word grateful in capital letters?)
No, the reason the Mentoring Alliance is underappreciated is because it’s familiar. It’s too close. People have begun to take it for granted. But our mentoring program is the envy of everyone in the country who knows about such things. We ought to be crowing about it.
Our student statistics are usually the headline, so we barely get to talk about our other successes. My relationship with my mentee is the best thing I’ve done for myself in ten years and if you talk with another mentor, you’ll likely hear something similar. Talk with a civic leader and you’ll hear about the bridges we’ve built in our community: 4000 people sharing across a divide, however you define it – age, experience, education, privilege, race – and you’re bound to have an impact. Our community is safer. Our kids, especially the ones who need a little extra, are more successful. And our mentors are smarter, more fulfilled, and generally more loved than they would have been if they’d allowed familiarity to get in the way.
Become a mentor. Give to the Mentoring Alliance. And if you’re already convinced, talk us up to anyone who will listen. Here at home, or anywhere they might benefit from a program like ours. Really. People should be doing this everywhere!
Mentor to Danny since February 2014