Burlington, VT—MENTOR Vermont recently convened the 2020 Vermont Mentoring Symposium, its annual conference that serves as the only professional development and networking opportunity of its kind focused on youth mentoring in Vermont. Typically a one-day in-person event, due to the pandemic, the 2020 Symposium was held virtually throughout the week of September 28-October 2. This year’s online format brought together more than 60 youth mentoring program staff, board members, and supporters from across the state for a series of networking and professional development sessions.
This year, the Symposium featured a keynote address from Dave Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of national programs and outreach at the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Anderson specializes in evaluating and treating children and adolescents with ADHD, behavior, anxiety, and mood disorders, and his address was titled “Supporting Youth in the Time of COVID: Strategies to Build Relationships and Better Manage Stress and Uncertainty.”
“What kids are looking for right now is adults who can regulate their emotions in the situation,” said Dr. Anderson. “Emotion regulation doesn’t mean not showing kids vulnerability, it doesn’t mean not showing kids that you’re having trouble coping. It just means you show them there are possibilities in the midst of all the emotions you’re having to regulate and manage that kind of stress.”
The full recording of Dr. Anderson’s address can be found at www.mentorvt.org/vermont-mentoring-symposium#4.
Other formal workshops at the Symposium included: “Introduction to Motivational Interviewing” (led by Jessica Guardado LICSW, LADC, the social work manager at Rutland Regional Medical Center), “Growth Mindset and Assets-Based Approaches” (led by Katy Farber, Ed.D, a Vermont educator, teacher coach, researcher, and writer), and “Growing Your Fundraising Program” (led by Jennifer Hayslett, a Vermont-based leadership and professional development coach and non-profit consultant). Support for these workshops was made possible by Workshop Sponsors Community Bank, N.A., NBT Bank, and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC).
Additionally, MENTOR Vermont offered “first look” sessions on two new resources for mentoring programs: the “Future Exploration Guide for Mentors,” a resource to help support youth in exploring career and education opportunities after high school, which is being developed in partnership with Careers CliC (through funding from the McClure Foundation and VSAC), and the Vermont Mentoring Hub, a new virtual platform designed to facilitate gathering, networking, and sharing of ideas and resources internally within the Vermont mentoring program community.
Technical assistance provider sessions were also led by two of MENTOR Vermont’s National Mentoring Resource Center providers: “New Mentoring Program Support” (led by Pam Quinn, Mentoring Director at the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program), and “The Most Importance Sentence in the World” (led by Chris Hultquist, executive director of The Mentor Connector).
The Symposium also featured peer-led discussions on a variety of topics requested by mentoring program staff: family engagement (Gabriella Tufo Strouse, director of community outreach at the King Street Center), race and anti-racism (Kheya Ganguly, Assistant Director of Youth and Family Services at United Counseling Service), mentor recruitment (Patricia Daddona, regional coordinator, Windsor County Mentors), school-based mentoring (Pam Quinn, mentoring director at the Twinfield Together Mentoring Program), online trainings (Rebecca Majoya, mentoring program associate, Spectrum Mentoring), remote mentoring (Stephanie Ball, mentoring director, Spectrum Mentoring), in-person mentoring during COVID (Bobbi Jo Stellato, mentoring director, The Mentor Connector, and Gabriella Tufo Strouse, community outreach director at the King Street Center), and match support (Kimberley Diemond, executive director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont).
More information about each virtual session, and downloadable resources from the presenters and facilitators can be found by visiting www.mentorvt.org/vermont-mentoring-symposium. The Symposium was also made possible by support from Symposium Supporter Sponsor National Life Group.
The Vermont Mentoring Symposium is planned and organized each year by MENTOR Vermont and members of its Program Leadership Council, an advisory group comprised of elected representatives from mentoring programs across the state that advises and assists the organization with its various youth mentoring initiatives.
About Mentoring during COVID-19: According to the “Mentoring Effect,” a study released in 2014 by MENTOR National, one in three youth in Vermont will enter adulthood without having a formal or informal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. Given the social isolation and trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mentoring is more important now than ever. Mentoring programs in Vermont have implemented creative ways for matches to continue meeting remotely from writing “pen pal” letters to each other to video chatting and virtual activities. Some mentoring programs are also offering the option for matches to meet in person again while meeting physical distancing guidelines. The majority of mentoring programs have also taken on new responsibilities to support mentees’ families during the crisis, including assisting with food and internet access, providing COVID-19 information in languages other than English, distributing masks, and helping to support mentees’ virtual education. For more information about MENTOR Vermont’s response to COVID-19, visit www.mentorvt.org/COVID-19.
About MENTOR Vermont: MENTOR Vermont supports 140 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites that serve 2,300 mentor pairs throughout the state. The organization awards more than $300,000 to youth mentoring agencies annually through the Vermont Mentoring Grants, which are made possible by support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation, the Vermont Department for Children and Families, and, in 2020-2021, the Vermont Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Additionally, the organization provides technical support to mentoring program staff, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, works with programs to ensure they are meeting best practices, and leads statewide mentoring initiatives like the Vermont Mentoring Symposium. For more information about mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mentorvt.org.