Long lasting, sustained and deep-rooted relationships are a cornerstone for much of the work we do. Our model of youth development and support from Middle School all throughout High School and now even to post-secondary means that we are there for the most formidable and impressionable years of the young people we support. This stems from our hyper local, system focus which not only allows us to positively impact young peoples lives in a community we are intimately familiar with, but also to continually push the envelope of these systems while helping to direct policy – impacting youth on a wider scale. None of this would be possible at the deep level, far reaching impact that we have without forming very important relationships. There is no relationship more important than those with our mentors and mentees. These relationships are important because when we as staff focus on providing the infrastructure to keep our youth space and community organization viable and lasting, our mentors form that integral and important bridge to the mentees. And in turn, we as staff support past mentors into staff and board roles. The model is holistic and renewing. And that is precisely why the model is so effective.
Many of these relationships initially start in grade 8 and continue on through their high school journey. Although the work we do is focused at the elementary and secondary level, those important relationships continue on into adulthood.
As our mentors graduate high school and go on to post-secondary, join apprenticeship programs or enter the workforce, many stay connected by tutoring in our after-school program, facilitating programming, while some become SBL staff and board members.
On December 21, 2015 staff and mentor alumni got together for competitive games of bowling and dinner. The evening was yet another way of sharing stories, checking in, staying connected, celebrating their successes, while creating new memories. It was an evening filled with smiles, laughter and nostalgic moments. Most importantly, the impetus for the mentor alumni dinner came from the alumni mentors themselves, reminding – both staff and mentor alumni – of the many important reasons we do the work that we do.