How many times have you heard successful people say that without the advice and encouragement they received years before from someone older and wiser, they might never have gotten so far? Mentors come in many forms: the high school coach or choir director who steers a talented student toward a successful, professional career; the Big Brother who takes a boy on his first fishing trip; the Big Sister who helps a young girl with her homework. Being a mentor mainly requires a desire to help and a little patience and understanding. And mentoring programs are looking for people who are willing to provide that.
In the city, the Baltimore Mentoring Institute sponsors two RAISE programs (an acronym for Raising Ambition Instills Self-Esteem). Last year the Baltimore County Private Industry Council launched a mentoring program for high school students as part of the Maryland Tomorrow program, a statewide initiative for at-risk youth. As this program launches its second year this week, organizers hope to expand the program to serve every high school in the county. There is a special need for black male volunteers to serve as mentors for boys.
Too often talents go unrecognized or undeveloped because no one is there with a word of encouragement. Mentoring programs can make a big difference in a young person's life -- and in the life of the mentor as well. Why not pitch in and lend a hand?