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PUBLIC PROFILE: Sarah Kreisman, Executive Director, Rogue Valley Mentoring

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Rogue Valley Messenger: Rogue Valley Mentoring has more than three dozen active mentors. What are the best qualities for a mentor?

Sarah Kreisman: I am honored to work as the Executive Director of Rogue Valley Mentoring! We boast an incredible team of caring, devoted mentors. These mentors are well-cared for, given continual guidance and education by highly-skilled volunteer mental support specialists and participate in monthly support circles. We see that the most effective mentors are compassionate, good listeners, reliable and are open to questioning their own beliefs and perspectives. We often hear from our mentors that their experience is for them as impactful and life-enriching as it is for the youth they mentor.

RVM: Is a mentor the same as a coach?

SK: Why do we need mentors? One out of every three young people don’t have a trusted adult whom they believe they can turn to for advice and guidance outside of their family home. Mentoring gives young people access to caring, stable adults and as a result they are more likely to see improved academic, social and and economic prospects. Research shows that youths who have been mentored are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college and 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions!  

RVM: Is there one piece of advice that you give new mentors, or something you tell the mentors when they begin?

SK: A mentor’s role is to listen deeply to what the youth is expressing and reflect what they hear while drawing out positive aspects and the strengths exhibited by the mentee. We ask new mentors to be as present as possible and to listen without judgement. We let them know we are always here to offer support, council and guidance along the way.

RVM: Is there a timeframe for mentoring? Is this a one-year “cycle” or is it ongoing? I suppose another way to ask that question is, is there a point at which mentoring is “finished”?

SK: Time commitment varies and is determined on a case-by-case basis. One-to-one matches are based on an agreed upon length of time between the mentor and mentee (ideally they would last a year), while circles typically run the length of a school year unless they begin in the Spring. When a mentoring relationship comes to a close we honor the experience by facilitating a formal process of closure.

RVM: In addition to one-on-one mentoring, Rogue Valley Mentoring offers “circles.” Can you briefly explain what that is, and whether each circle has a theme, or are the discussion topics generated by the participants?

SK: Circles are co-facilitated by 2-3 mentors. They can be thematic and also based on topics generated by participants. We offer optional themes based on national accredited mentoring standards but circles may also evolve organically.

RVM: Over the past 14 years, Rogue Valley Mentoring has grown from mentoring girls to mentoring boys, young moms, and hosting outdoor programs. Are there plans to continue to expand?

Moving forward we plan to continue offering mentorship to all genders, are cultivating nature opportunities and are developing a special interest LGBTQIA High School community group. We are working to continue to expand our programs in general and welcome more cultural and regional diversity. We also intend to eventually make our programs more accessible to volunteers by welcoming short-term mentors who facilitate a one-time or shorter term activity or class, and also by integrating skills/interest-based mentoring where an adult can offer to mentor a youth in a specific trade or hobby!

RVM: Did you have a mentor growing up?

SK: I myself have had many mentors throughout my life and continue to benefit from the support and encouragement of the elders in my beloved community.

The first step in becoming an RVM mentor is to take our mentor essential training. All are welcome to take our training whether or not you sign up to mentor with us. Our training helps improve communication and interpersonal skills, develops leadership and management skills, increases confidence, motivation, and more. All of our mentors are thoroughly vetted including a background and reference check.

We are looking for as much community involvement and input as we can get in order to effectively assess the needs of the Rogue Valley community. We hope to hear from you!

Rogue Valley Mentoring offers a mentor training on January 25 and 26. For more information, contact Mary Ann Perry at maryann@rvmentoring.org or 541-708-6688.

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