In a program wired to create and develop connections for our youth, it is amazing to see the way connections are formed in other ways. The fabric of human relationships is built through connection. As we seek to grow and understand, we make connections. Whether those connections are developed is our choice. Today, I was thrilled to make connection with someone in the east of the United States. This person shared of amazing developments within her program reaching youth in need.

The stories overflowing through their program gave inspiration and momentum for what we are doing here in Madison.

If we are courageous enough to share our stories, we hold more power and potential than we could ever imagine. How are we developing intentional connections to empower one another and #choosechange in the world in which we live?

#intentionalmentoringmadison

When it came to our first pairings, I was excited and nervous. You can’t force mentorships, but you can develop them. As we looked to pair mentors with mentees, we were really grateful at the time and energy each was wanting to give.

2016- End of January, beginning of February marks our first pairings. These pairings involved making sure mentors and mentees met for an introductory meeting. We made sure mentors had supports they needed and contacts both in and outside of the school.

Throughout the first two weeks, the stories are already unfolding. Student excitement to contact their mentors and mentors excited to meet up with other mentor-mentee pairs. There have been statements of wonderment as each pair gets to dive into another life.

The coolest part is the understanding that no one lives the same life. The understanding that we can always add something to the lives we choose to be a part of; as they add to our lives in turn. Conversations rise out of the woodwork, as we realize the impact of each moment we spend with someone outside of our own little world.

#moments

#intentionalmentoringmadison

What does it mean to be intentional?

in-ten-tion-al

/inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/

adjective
done on purpose; deliberate

Mentoring can happen in so many ways, but what would happen if we dove into a world with purposeful mentoring around every corner? What if mentors sought guidance in their advising and training of others? What if guidance was provided through intentional coaching?

If we want to do anything well, we do it with intention. If we want to do anything the best we can, we continue to learn to be the best we can be; we seek resources and create goals.

What if… there was intentional mentoring?

As I launched this program in fall of 2015, there were constant reminders to move confidently, but to take small steps and never stop asking questions. With every open door, came a new reminder. Sometimes this came through people; and sometimes this came through situations.

This simple reminder allowed the program a healthy start. The fall was made up of several meetings; meetings it turns out can be quite time consuming, but this kept our pace steady. When working with people, communication and patience are key components. The greatest part about these meetings was hearing the stories from people working in this community and wanting what is best for our students. The outcry is enormous. The largest consistency came through the lack of time and resources, and the struggle to make it by without much.

Through these meetings it became all-the-more evident that we need to link arms; that no small thing is going to happen independently. With so much awesomeness already present in Madison, we need to start intertwining roots already planted.

…In walk, our first brave mentors. This winter of 2015, we linked with a handful of mentors ready to jump in and get to know some amazing students. While they knew this was not going to be an immediate pairing, they bought into the story behind the program; they wanted to be a part of change.

Leaving the first informational meeting on December 12th from 9-11am, we were a group with high hopes and big dreams. We knew there was a lot of work to be done, but that we were moving; moving with small steps and many questions.

Looking into the schools, we reached out for the students. We asked teachers for more input and started the process of invitation. What we didn’t realize was the difficulty in getting students involved. In order for students to enter this program, they need to apply and fill out some forms. Not only that, but we want to connect with families. Soon, we realized that gathering students for the program may be one of the most difficult pieces. We want to invite, encourage and motivate students; but, ultimately the choice needs to be theirs.

Finally, rounding out the semester, we were ready to start some pairings. Our patient mentors were ready. While steps continued to remain small, our questions remained as many.

This team remains ready for the oncoming staircase, and are in steady search for answers.

#intentionalmentoringmadison

#choosechange

"It's always about focusing not on the mistakes, but on the lessons learned by them." - John Wooden

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