RYC Celebrates National Mentor Month

A mix of R.E.A.L. Youth Connections’ mentors and board members

January is the perfect month to acknowledge and thank a mentor.


Because January is National Mentor Month (NMM). Back in 2002, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR (National Mentoring Partnership) founded NMM.

Why they picked January, I’m not sure, but their aim was, and continues to be, to grow the recognition and support of organizations, schools, and communities throughout the US for mentoring programs.

Each year the President of the United States issues a proclamation recognizing January as National Mentor Month. And there’s even a ‘Thank a Mentor Day’ on January 21st. But don’t worry if you missed it. Really any day is a good day to thank someone who has had a positive effect on your life.

Now a Look Back on the History of the Term “Mentor

It’s believed somewhere around 750 B.C.E. when Homer wrote the epic poem, The Odyssey, he named one of his central characters Mentor.

According to ‘Mentor in Greece’ (https://mentoringreece.com/why-mentor-who-was-mentor/) in a blog posted on their website on May 1, 2019, they wrote:

“In Homer‘s classic epic poem, The Odyssey, Mentor… was both friend and counselor to Odysseus (also known by the Latin name Ulysses). Odysseus, king of Ithaca, fights in the Trojan War and entrusts the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.

“The word Mentor evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher, and wise person. The first recorded modern usage of the term can be traced to a 1699 book entitled ‘The Adventures of Telemachus’, by the French writer Francois Fenelon. In the book the lead character is that of Mentor… who is revealed at the end of the story to be Athena, goddess of wisdom, in disguise.”

Well, all it sounds legit to me, but I’ll leave you to make up your own mind. But safe to say, mentors in many forms have been around for a very long time.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring.org on their website states, “Imagine a world where young people feel empowered, encouraged, and understood. Mentors can make that world a reality by helping young people find and follow their passions, excel in school, and thrive wherever they are.”  Mentoring can have a major impact on people’s lives enabling them to see and tap into their full potential faster by learning from others.

At RYC we believe a mentor is part architect, designing fresh idea-scapes in the minds of his/her mentees. Part tour guide, introducing them to new and different ways of thinking. Part sounding board, engaged in untangling scrambled thoughts. Part reconstructionist, reconnecting them to themselves, their peers, and their community.

That’s what a mentor does.

How Can You Be Involved

Really anyone can be a mentor. We all have certain skills, experiences, and interests that we can draw on to help others on their life’s journey.

And being a mentor can be a truly rewarding experience. We have found this to be the case at R.E.A.L. Youth Connections. Our mentors often comment that they come away with a heightened sense of gratitude for having the chance to engage in a meaningful and positive way with the community’s youth.

Consider, if you aren’t already, on becoming a mentor. Our once-a-week, after school program might be a perfect fit for you. Or you could choose to support a local mentorship program in your area either through a contribution, be a sponsor for an event, or share with a group on how a mentor once helped you.

And just to come full circle, don’t forget to reach out to a mentor and say thanks. It will make their day.

Need a little inspiration? Watch this short (1:14 min) video.

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