Education

Mentoring moms can make a difference

Credit: Thirty Million Words Initiative.

One of the most iconic recruitment campaigns used by the military featured a stern-faced Uncle Sam pointing outward with his right index finger, his eyes glaring straight at anyone who dared to look.

“I Want YOU for U.S. Army,” announced the caption below in bold red and blue capital letters.

The popular illustration was seen by millions of people across the country, a clarion call to join forces to help defend America’s freedom at home and abroad.

The message was direct and clear. The image was striking and bold.

Over the years, other organizations and businesses adopted the message, the image and the slogan to fit their purpose of attracting people to help build their forces.

As the project manager for the Studer Community Institute, I have been on a mission to find the best approach to help young parents get their young children ready and prepared for kindergarten.

In the spirit of Uncle Sam’s plea, “I Want YOU … to become a Mentor Mom.”

In our mission to improve the quality of life for everyone in the Pensacola Metro, we also are striving to become America’s first Early Learning City.

An important part of becoming an Early Learning City is ensuring that parents are ably prepared to help their young children reach important developmental milestones.

Even with organizations, programs and good people at work, young parents, especially new mothers, can use all the help they can get to plot their course in life and plan for their future.

Mentors for moms will become an important part of the Institute’s Parent Outreach Program that we believe can help young mothers develop the will and the skills to lead successful, productive lives.

As a mentor, you could be the spark that ignites a young mother’s passion and desire to believe in the impossible and do the incredible.

Mentoring Moms are caring women who understand how hard it is to raise a family and want to make life a bit easier for another mother.

Whether it is providing practical help with everyday challenges, such as navigating community resources, or giving emotional support as she sorts through difficult issues, mentors are a healthy outlet and positive presence in a mom’s life.

I’m sure you asking, “Do you have what its takes to be a mentor?”

Are you a good listener? Can you be supportive and non-judgmental? Are you willing to provide encouragement to a mother working hard to build a better future for her family? Then, of course you have what it takes.

Ideally, mothers will be paired together based on their unique needs, struggles and strengths. Mentors provide intentional support to their mentees to provide one-on-one advice and an opportunity for candid dialogue on the challenges and questions tied to balancing motherhood.

The mentorship would cover a broad range of topics, from balancing career and family, to finding the best child care, and talking to managers about career goals of course, the best ways to help develop a baby’s brain.

The pool of mentoring moms is wide and deep. It could be moms with new babies, moms with toddlers, moms with teens, moms with multiple children, moms who work full-time and love it, moms who work full-time and hate it, moms who work part-time from home, moms who left their pre-baby jobs, redefined “work,” and have found other ways to pay the bills, moms who have retired and want to share their expertise and experiences — all of these people can be valuable mentors because all of them have something to teach … even if it’s how not to do something.

I’ve had my share of marvelous mentors throughout my life—teachers writing coaches, editors, experienced and accomplished co-workers — and even more than the trial-by-fire experience that comes with on-the-job learning,

I’ve become the professional I am because of the lessons I’ve collected from those who have gone before, paved the way, and then shared with me their experiences, trials and triumphs. Who better to steer us from mistakes and missteps than someone who has already made them? (And who better to determine that some mistakes and missteps are part of the process that no one should be spared?)

You never know where your influence starts and can never underestimate the impact you have on a person’s life and future.

And you don’t need power or prestige or deep pockets to mentor. Any responsible, caring person willing to consistently share a little time can become a mentor for a mom.

Mentors usually end up becoming a friend and a role model who benefit from the guidance of another person in their life.

I mentored in Escambia schools for nearly 20 years. It has been a rewarding experience not only for the students but also for me.

In the end, mentoring has the power to change lives. By being available for someone, sharing dreams and validating them, we can make a significant difference.

SCI wants you to become a mentor.

At no cost to you except a little time, energy and passion, becoming a mentor is a wonderful way to help a young mother and your community at the same time.

If you want help or know someone who has ideas, suggestions or just want to talk about SCI’s labor of love in early learning, email rdogan@studeri.org, or call (850) 529-6485.