During the last academic year, the MindShift mentors spent approximately 255 hours of their time with their assigned mentees. This year Winn gets to be involved. The program requires the mentors to spend a minimum of one hour a week with their mentee, which many of the mentors exceed.
As a father of two, Calvin Glover who works as a Patient Advocate at Winn and mentor at BGE said although the saying, "children are our future," may seem cliché', rings true to him.
"If we don't prepare them for the future, then what is our future going to look like," Glover asked. "We need to have these people in our community, our cities, our states in our country that want to help other kids."
Glover said as a hands on dad himself, he is active in his children's lives."
"I use that same mentality when I'm dealing with the mentees," Glover said. "I just try to be whoever they need me to be in their life. I try to be that adult that I wanted someone to be for me when I was their age. Someone that's understanding; someone that's going to listen; someone that's not going to be too hard on them, but still be firm; hold them accountable for their actions like I do my own children."
The MindShift program follows the guidelines and research taken from the book The Seven Mindsets, which the authors define as the four essential elements that are critical to creating a happy life.
BGE Principal, Dolores Crawford, said 30 students were targeted to participate in the program and she has a transparent approach with the children and their parents, but said expectation management is important for all involved.
"I don't want the students to feel like they can run over their mentors," Crawford said. "That they can tell them anything and use this as an opportunity to get something .What they're getting is the opportunity to have someone outside of their teacher, outside of their parents, to come into their lives and make a positive difference."
MEDDAC Company Commander, Capt. Alexander Stodola agrees and has served as a mentor in some capacity for the past 10 years, said he started mentoring as a freshman in college.
"I remember when I was a kid, kind of throughout my life I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do," Stodola said. "I kind of always did what I wanted … what I thought was the right thing, [I] was kind of aimless. I had a mentor who kind of showed me kind of how to act, kind of how to plan, how to set goals. I know it had an instrumental role in my life so I kind of always wanted to pay it forward."
Although Stodola said the hardest part may be the first time he met his mentee, he found a great way to break the ice.
"I find the best interaction is to do it during an activity, whether it's playing sports, whether it's going hiking for a walk, or at BGE. I just went to his class and just sat down with him during reading class, and like 'hey…what are you reading? Why don't you tell me about it,'" Stodola said.
Stodola was instrumental in introducing others to the program such as Sgt. Tierra Rivers, who was a little reluctant to join at first, yet she took time to reflect on her past, then joined the program herself.
"I remember when I was in elementary school and I was going through a lot and I didn't have anybody to look to or anybody to talk to, and I just felt really alone and weird like I went through a world wind of things and I didn't have anybody to show me the right way," Rivers said.
Crawford said the impact the mentors have had on the program has been significant and invites others in the community to apply for the mentorship program.
"I want people to know that a little bit of time out of their busy schedule, out of their day, can make a life time of difference in a life of a child," Crawford said.