Want to do something great for your health, community? Help mentor a younger person

  • By Jenny Martin
  • Thursday, January 9, 2014 11:40am
  • News
Want to do something great for your health, community? Help mentor a younger person

Middle school is no picnic. Between a larger school, harder classes, puberty and peer pressure, I’m amazed I survived. When I think back on it now, I realize one of the things that helped me stay afloat was my band teacher, Mr. Peterson. 

Mr. P, as we called him, was “hip” for a school teacher. He played drums in his own 1970s rock band and wore paisley shirts and bell bottom pants (yes, I’m that old). Mr. P would let us come down to the band room during study hall and practice or help organize music in the band library. He let us “hang out” and joked with us, taking an interest in our lives. 

More importantly, he listened. He could tell when I was overwhelmed or nervous about something — whether it was a solo in band or a problem with a friend. He knew how to push me- — just enough — to get me to figure things out for myself or master a new piece of music.  

Later in high school, Mr. P was my jazz band instructor. I was a pretty shy kid, with a self esteem of 0, but Mr. P saw something more in me. He invited me to be in the varsity jazz band when I was only a freshman. He knew I was terrified but that I trusted him. He magically (in my eyes) found a way to challenge me in a supportive manner until I was holding my own with the seniors in our band.

Though I didn’t end up choosing music as a career, the support and lessons I learned from Mr. P helped shape me into a more confident and compassionate person.

During January, which is National Mentoring Month, I give thanks for the mentors in my life like Mr. P.  Mentors are important resources in our lives and the lives of our children.  By simply facilitating connections, mentors help youth with personal growth and education support, parents and caregivers can find an ally or two to assist in their child’s development, teachers can have their work reinforced, and the mentors themselves can grow from engaging with their mentee(s). It’s a win-win system that is easy to facilitate and from which all benefit.

During this month-long awareness campaign, I encourage you to do two things. First, thank one of the mentors in your life. Whether your mentor is still with you or not, find a way to show appreciation through a letter, email or even just sharing with others the impact your mentor had on your life.  

Second, get involved with mentoring in our community. Become a mentor, support a mentoring program, or get your children involved with something that could change their lives. 

In Homer, we are lucky to have a wealth of mentors and mentoring programs in a variety of areas: school sports, Community Recreation coaches, school teachers, a variety of music instructors, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Homer Council on the Arts, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Pratt Museum, Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, Homer Cycling Club, Kachemak Bay Running Club, HoWL, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Pier One Theatre, faith-based programs, Kenai Peninsula Youth Court, Rec Room, and the list goes on and on. 

If you don’t feel you have the time to be a mentor or coach yourself, make a donation or attend a fundraising event with one of these organizations. Research shows that donating and volunteering can improve your health and prolong your life. I’ll say it again, it’s a win-win system.

Mentoring programs might be one of the most valuable, simple initiatives for communities to readily support themselves. Individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can all work together to increase the number of mentors and assure brighter futures for our youth. 

In honor of National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters is sponsoring the following events that are all open to the public. We hope you can attend and share your own mentoring story.

Jan 13: Presentation at Homer City Council at
6 p.m.

Jan. 18: Mentoring Month Fundraiser at Homer High School from 5 to 7 p.m. Help us say thanks to all our “Bigs” and enjoy food and entertainment. Stay for the HCOA Stepping Out community talent show afterwards in the Mariner Theater. Tickets on sale at the Homer Bookstore.

Jan. 30: Free Movie Night at the Homer Movie Theater at 5:30 p.m.  Title TBA (will be rated PG or G). Winners from our Mentor Writing Contest will read their entries prior to start of the movie.

Start something Big this January.

Jenny Martin is the community director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Homer. For more information about the program call her at 235-8391, email Jenny.martin@bbbsak.org or go to the website www.bbbsak.org.

More in News

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

Thunder Mountain High School on April 18.  Earlier this fall, vandalism including stolen soap dispensers and toilets clogged with foreign objects such as paper towel rolls were a problem at schools nationwide and in Juneau. But, principals say the local situation is improving. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
After brief surge, vandalism subsiding at local high schools

Principals say internet trends, stress likely behind incidents.

In this Jan. 8, 2020, photo Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, heads to a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Alaska man faces federal charges after authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill Murkowski, according to court documents unsealed Wed., Oct. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite,File)
Delta Junction man faces charges over threatening Murkowski’s life

Authorities allege he threatened to hire an assassin to kill the senator.

Donna Aderhold recites the Homer City Council oath of office and is sworn in for duty at the city council meeting on Oct. 11. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
New council members sworn into duty Monday

Newly-elected Homer City Council members Shelly Erickson and Jason Davis and re-elected… Continue reading

Runners participate in boys varsity race at the Ted McKenney XC Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, at Tsalteshi Trails just outside of Soldotna, Alaska. The trails recently reported incidents of vandalism and theft. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Vandalism and theft reported at Tsalteshi Trails

One trail user reported stolen skis recently and multiple signs have been defaced.

At left Bonita Banks, RN, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) nurse at Homer Medical Center, and at right, Annie Garay, RN, Community Health Educator, pose for a photo at South Peninsula Hospital on Sept. 27, 2021, at Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
New hospital community health educator starts

Garay, a Homer raised nurse, came home to ride out COVID-19, wound up doing pandemic nursing.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Montessori school goes to universal indoor masking

As of Tuesday, eight KPBSD schools were operating with universal indoor masking for staff and students.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Crabbers look at cuts to quotas

Tanner, opilio crab quotas cut on top of cancellation of fall king crab fishery.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Judge sides with psychiatrists who alleged wrongful firing

Two psychiatrists said they were wrongfully fired when Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy took office.

Most Read