This January, we celebrate National Mentoring Month. Mentoring has always been an important part of my life, but the month now holds a different significance for me as I embrace my new role at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire.
I met my professional mentor at my first job after college. As his sales assistant, he didn’t need to take me anywhere—but he did. And he took me everywhere. He took me to sales calls, lunches, client dinners. He introduced me to his family. Because of him, I learned early on in my career the value of relationships, both personal and professional. He taught me the importance of exposure and access. But most importantly, he taught me the definition of true leadership.
Without his influence and guidance, opportunities like becoming CEO of this incredible nonprofit would not be possible.
And if a mentor is so critical to the success of working professionals, the impact increases exponentially for youth. Those in our program face unimaginable hardships that create roadblocks on the path to fulfilling their full potential.
One in three youth nationwide are growing up without a mentor. They face homelessness, poverty, exposure to gangs and violence—all without someone to stand in their corner. Without someone to ignite their potential, they are more likely to skip school, to start using drugs, to believe that college is not within their reach.
So this January, I challenge everyone to think about their own role model growing up. How has mentoring changed your life? And, perhaps more urgently, how could it change your life today?
It changed mine when I least expected it. When I moved back home to Orange County from the East Coast, I began building a career for myself in the local marketing and advertising industry. But I was still looking for ways to reconnect with my community. I was single, looking to start my own family. I was looking for an opportunity to make a lasting, personal impact on a child.
This search for something more in my life led me to Big Brothers Big Sisters, where I signed up to be a volunteer mentor in 2013. But the funny thing is, what brings you to our agency is never what keeps you.
That was the case for me. While I had hoped I would be able to make a difference as Wendy’s Big Sister, I never anticipated the impact she would also have on me. Becoming her mentor changed me—and as a result, it also triggered a series of changes in my life.
Over the last five years, I completed a career transition into the nonprofit field, married an amazing man and became the proudest mother of two beautiful boys. And because of mentorship, I’ve found the greatest opportunity of my life: serving youth in my community as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. My mentorship journey has come full circle.
For the kids,
Chief Executive Officer
In honor of National Mentoring Month, stand with us. Ignite potential for a child in Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino County by being a mentor or referring a mentor to ocbigs.org or iebigs.org. We all have the potential to change a future.