Ambassadors of Mentoring 2022

We are excited to announce the 2022 Vermont Ambassadors of Mentoring!

 

MENTOR Vermont and Comcast have teamed up again this January to raise awareness of the amazing work mentors are doing in the communities across Vermont and recognize outstanding volunteer mentors and their mentees for their service.

Because of the pandemic, we realize this has been an especially difficult year for youth, and for mentors as well. With these awards, MENTOR Vermont and Comcast hope to highlight the ways mentors and mentees have maintained their connections and discovered new ways to stay in touch during this time of uncertainty. We want to promote positivity, and to encourage new people to become mentors, even if it looks a little different than it did before.

The award ceremony for this year’s Ambassadors will take place virtually on Monday, January 31st at 4 pm EST. 

If you would like to tune in for this year’s Ambassadors of Mentoring award ceremony, please email sarah@mentorvt.org to receive a zoom link.

 

Click on each of the mentor pairs’ names below to read their stories!

1: Alexis and Betsy - Starksboro Mentoring Program

Name of Mentee: Alexis
Name of Mentor: Betsy Dunham
Mentoring Program: Starksboro Mentoring Program
Program Type: Community/School-Based
Length of Their Match: 5.5 years
Age of Mentee: 12

About This Match:

The Mentee

Alexis describes her mentor Betsy as artistic, kind, caring, awesome, fun & full of ideas. All these words could also be used to describe this match. Betsy has introduced Alexis to new ideas and skills from baking to sewing to sugaring to crafting and her knowledge of horses. They discovered they both enjoyed sewing and after working together on a project of making a Halloween costume, Alexis initiated some sewing projects of her own, got herself set up to sew on her mother’s sewing machine at home & has continued doing sewing projects on her own. In September, they were reunited in person after many months of remote meetings during COVID. Recently they worked on a scrapbook, documenting the years they’ve spent together. Both Alexis and Betsy take on the responsibility of making sure that they get to see each other each week. When asked what she would like to thank her mentor for, Alexis responded, “for being there in the good & bad weather.”

The Mentor

For Betsy, Alexis is often on her mind. She finds herself thinking, “Alexis would like this!” when she comes across something interesting or unique and can’t wait to share it with her. Her match with Alexis gives her a sense of connection to young people today. Alexis has opened up Betsy’s world and allowed her to see the world through the eyes of a child. Just as Betsy shares her skills and knowledge with Alexis, Alexis teaches Betsy all the time. A recent tree craft made from newspaper was one of those teachable moments, all led by Alexis. Betsy is creative and full of ideas when it comes to crafts. It is impressive and exciting to now see Alexis doing her own research and coming up with her own very creative ideas for their future projects together. Betsy and Alexis complement each other with their creative abilities and ideas. Betsy has grown children and in her match with Alexis, she relishes her role as a non-judgmental, helpful & interested friend.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Betsy is a cornerstone of the Starksboro Mentoring Program and is always willing to share the successes and challenges of being a mentor. She has risen to the occasion in a variety of challenging situations over the years with extraordinary commitment and grace. It is clear that Betsy is flexible and determined to make the most of her time. Betsy cares deeply about making an impact in her community and in her mentee’s life and should be recognized for her amazing contribution to our program. 

Alexis and Betsy were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Rebekah DePinto of MAUSD.

 

2: Andrew and Moira - Windsor County Mentors

Name of Mentee: Andrew
Name of Mentor: Moira Notargiacomo
Mentoring Program: Windsor County Mentors
Program Type: Community/School-Based
Length of Their Match: 16 months
Age of Mentee: 10

About This Match:

The Mentee

Andrew “loves having a mentor” and “looks forward to seeing her every week.” He particularly enjoys the scope of activities they do together, and has become interested in hiking and skating with his mentor. According to Andrew’s mother, he is more outgoing this year and is taking a more active role in school.

The Mentor

Mentoring Andrew has given Moira “a tremendous amount of joy” and she believes that she gets as much if not more out of the relationship as Andrew does. “Spending time with Andrew is so enjoyable” that it makes Moira “see things in new ways, through his eyes.”

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Andrew and Moira are the first cross-gender match made at Windsor County Mentors. It has been a huge success! Their strong and growing friendship and the wide scope of their activities they do together have shown us that much more is possible than we had expected in matching mentors and mentees.

Andrew and Moira were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Matthew of Windsor County Mentors

3: Assia and Alice - Crossroads Mentoring Program

Name of Mentee: Assia
Name of Mentor: Alice Urban
Mentoring Program: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) Vermont: Crossroads Mentoring Program
Program Type: Community-Based
Length of Their Match: 5 years
Age of Mentee: 18

About This Match:

The Mentee

“Alice has become a member of my family, and I believe the successful mentoring relationship was the friendship that grew between our families. I got to meet her family, and she got to meet mine, which has strengthened our bond. Alice became a very significant part of my life; she was there when I graduated from high school, and she helped me adjust to the education system in the U.S. She was there at one of the most difficult times of my life when I was applying to colleges and she is still there for me now in college, which I appreciate. What I’m trying to say is that Alice is always there for me; she is not just my mentor, but also a family member, and I am eternally thankful. Alice and I share a bond that extends beyond the mentoring program itself. Through my involvement with Crossroads and my connection to Alice, I have increased self-confidence, self-awareness, leadership skills, communication abilities, and have extended my personal network.” -Assia

The Mentor

“Assia and I both moved to Vermont in September 2016 and while our relocations to Chittenden County were under very different circumstances, that newness to the area gave us something in common when we were matched by USCRI. Our relationship has had a significant impact on me for several reasons; first, it’s been a way for Assia and me both to develop a sense of community. Our families have become friends, and we’ve been part of each other’s significant life events. Second, it’s allowed me to support Assia and her family as they transitioned to life in the U.S. Assia worked diligently through the demanding college application process, and it was my privilege to support her in her success. She is now a first-year student at Brandeis University, where she is majoring in international and global studies. Third, Assia’s resilience, enthusiasm, and drive to make the world a better place in her community and globally is inspiring. She has a bright future, and I am grateful to be a part of it.” – Alice

Additional Contributions to the Program:

As part of the capstone project, Assia worked with USCRI to pilot an educational resume tool for New American students. Assia (with Alice as her Community Mentor) met with new American students to gather information help staff to better understands students’ experiences prior to resettlement. Assia interviewed school teachers and updated the resume tool. She made valuable recommendations on the resume’s application and potential for integration into a peer-to-peer mentoring initiative.

Assia and Alice were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Laurie Stavrand of USCRI

4: Bawmu and Patrick - Everybody Wins! Vermont

Name of Mentee: Bawmu
Name of Mentor: Patrick DiMambro
Mentoring Program: Everybody Wins! Vermont
Program Type: School-Based
Length of Their Match: 3.5 years
Age of Mentee: 11

About This Match:

The Mentee

Bawmu is a New American of Burmese descent. He and Patrick have formed a deep, trusting bond. They’ve read and played literacy games together weekly since Bawmu was in second grade. Although the pandemic and our move to virtual Everybody Wins sessions has been challenging, Patrick and Bawmu have made it work! Through Patrick’s encouragement, Bawmu has taken on more and more responsibilities of reading aloud. It is with great pride that since October of this year, Bawmu has tackled reading aloud via our Zoom session the entire online book, Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury. This lengthy 250+ page chapter book has kept both Patrick and Bawmu captivated week after week, especially with Bawmu’s confident and very expressive reading aloud.

The Mentor

Patrick has worked hard to fulfill his goal for participation in our program. As a new college graduate and young professional, it was clear that Patrick understood the incredible impact mentoring can have on mentees. His stated goal was fairly simple: “Developing a relationship with one child over the course of a year or beyond.” Patrick has mentored three children at Edmunds Elementary School in the past 6 years. Bawmu and Patrick have been fortunate to develop their relationship based on kindness, humor, and friendship over the past three and a half years.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Patrick and Bawmu’s enthusiasm for their weekly remote Everybody Wins sessions is contagious! When we meet as a group of several pairs in our main Zoom room, they always have positive comments and clearly share their desire to move to their breakout room to begin their time together. Patrick always comments on his pride and encouragement of Bawmu’s reading and silly Mad Libs stories they craft together. This pair has definitely made the best of this virtual mentoring we’ve had to pivot to due to the pandemic, and their enhtusiasm has encouraged other pairs and helped everyone connect and bond in a remote program.

Bawmu and Patrick were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Beth Wallace of Everybody Wins!

Note: Photo above was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

5: Hamila and Premila - King Street Center

Name of Mentee: Hamila
Name of Mentor: Premila Peters
Mentoring Program: King Street Center
Program Type: Community-Based
Length of Their Match: 8 years
Age of Mentee: 17

About This Match:

The Mentee

For Halima, having a mentor has meant having a constant, older friend to talk with, share life experiences, use as a sounding board, and someone to turn to when needed. Halima met Premila when she was in elementary school. She is now 17 and a junior in high school. Through the years they have cooked, baked, listened to music, shopped, enjoyed bird watching, watched movies, eaten international cuisines and giggled – a lot!

The Mentor

Premila describes not only the added sense of purpose to her life, but learning, “Modern music and dance moves, cool apps, and how new American families and youth navigate between two worlds and two cultures.” This match often finds themselves talking about family, friends, school, and various other interests. Premila has watched Halima navigate the complicated years of adolescence and has been there to help her manage life’s ups and downs, as well as discover interests, strengths, and passions. Premila describes the gift of mentoring, “Watching Halima grow into a young, beautiful, confident woman and helping, to whatever extent possible, to find her place in this world as an adult. My wish for Halima is that she channels her talents, intelligence and smarts towards something that fulfills her and provides her a rewarding life.”

Matched 8 years now, they celebrate their anniversary, as they do every year, with a red velvet cake.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

As an active King Street Board member since 2019, Premila has advocated for and been a voice for mentoring. She currently serves as Vice Chair and leads the Transition Team for King Street Center’s new Executive Director.

Halima and Premila were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Gabriella Tufo Strouse of King Street Center

6: Isaac and Pat - Spectrum

Name of Mentee: Isaac
Name of Mentor: Pat Fleming
Mentoring Program: Spectrum
Program Type: Community-Based
Length of Their Match: 2.5 years
Age of Mentee: 16

About This Match:

The Mentee

Pat has been one of Isaac’s biggest supporters. He helped Isaac get the equipment he needed for football and basketball, helped him figure out transportation to get to and from practices, and Pat attends close to every single one of his games! Pat also helps keep in touch with his school guidance counselors, teachers, and coaches to make sure he’s succeeding.

The Mentor

“I think Isaac and I sort of fill in the holes in each other’s lives. Being retired with both of my girls grown and settled has afforded me the time to be able to do more. I really believe that part of our purpose on earth is to make life a little less difficult for others, and that has always been important to me and something that I will continue to do in my later years. Each game that I attend I am always struck by the fact that I have never once seen his mom or dad at a game and then realize that I have become part of Isaac’s family. I often tell Isaac that I don’t know how or why fate brought us together, but I’m sure glad that it did. He doesn’t disagree!” – Pat

Isaac and Pat were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring Zoe Worth of Spectrum

 

7: Karsen and Ellen - Grand Isle County Mentoring

Name of Mentee: Karsen
Name of Mentor: Ellen Dorsch
Mentoring Program: Grand Isle County Mentoring
Program Type: School-Based
Length of Their Match: 2 years
Age of Mentee: 12

About This Match:

The Mentee

Karsen has a lot of energy and loves to be silly. He has a busy household at home and really looks forward to the 1:1 time he has with Ellen. His mother Jessica shared, “Ellen is one of his favorite people in the world. He just adores her. He loves that he has someone outside the home to open up to and be himself.”

The Mentor

When asked to share how mentoring Karsen has impacted her life, Ellen wrote, “My mentor and I Zoomed every other week during the “lock down” of the pandemic. When we started this routine, I wondered what we would do for an hour on Zoom. We played some games, did puzzles over Zoom, talked, his little sister and mother sometimes joined us. We both wanted something to look forward to, something different then our routine at home. After a few sessions, I realized that I was looking forward to our next meet up. How nice to see young people, rather than the two retirees in our house. How nice to laugh at silly things … following him, and his computer, around his house to see the new chickens, ducks and Steak, the cow, outside. Perhaps he added more joy and levity to my life than I did to his; who knows.”

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Ellen has been a valuable mentor in our program for many years. She has had 4 mentees and has always made herself available to whomever needs her. Ellen attends all the special events, trainings and meetings our program has to offer. She shares her ideas and her stories inspire others to join the program. We are so thankful to have her. The enthusiasm Karsen brings to mentoring is also inspiring. He appreciates the relationship and that is part of what makes them such a great pair. Together they were a model pair on how to make remote friendships work during the pandemic. Zoom and letters is not easy, but they managed to stay in touch and committed to their friendship.

Karsen and Ellen were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Liese Reagan of Grand Isle County Mentoring

 

8: Kaylee and Jenica - Mentoring at United Counseling Service

Name of Mentee: Kaylee
Name of Mentor: Jenica McEvoy
Mentoring Program: Mentoring at United Counseling Service (USC)
Program Type: Community/School-Based
Length of Their Match: 2 years
Age of Mentee: 9

About This Match:

The Mentee

In Kaylee’s words, “I feel very, very good about the mentoring program because I get to see my mentor! I like the crafting projects. One of my favorite crafts was a set of painted popsicle snowmen with felt scarves that hang on the tree. I also like the hiking. My favorite place we have explored so far is Willow Park where we did part of the frisbee golf course.”

The Mentor

In Jenica’s words, “Mentoring during the earlier part of Covid-19 was challenging because there’s only so much you can do via video chat. Because we live fairly close to each other though, it was easy to drop off supplies and then do things together online. I think my favorite activities are when we get to go outside and explore. Kaylee is always up for anything and it’s fun showing her new trails and places to explore like the trails at the Bennington Museum or the less used trails at the Park McCullough House property. We do many craft projects too and it’s fun to see her creativity shine.”

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Jenica and Kaylee began their match relationship in December of 2019. Through determination and creativity, they were able to form and maintain a strong and meaningful bond which is quite evident when witnessing their interactions. Although we have not hosted or participated in many of the traditional pre-Covid events that we would typically offer, Jenica and Kaylee have attended those that we have. Jenica has also helped with our fundraising efforts and shared valuable mentor prospective input during virtual mentor meetings with our staff. We are truly fortunate to have both Jenica and Kaylee in our Mentoring at UCS program!

Kaylee and Jenica were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Laurie Sallisky of Mentoring at UCS

9: Lily and Kym - Milton Mentors

Name of Mentee: Lily
Name of Mentor: Kym Duchesneau
Mentoring Program: Milton Mentors
Program Type: Community-Based
Length of Their Match: 4 years 7 months
Age of Mentee: 14

About This Match:

The Mentee

Lily joined the Milton Mentors program when she was nine and has been paired with Kym for almost 5 years. Kym will tell you that “Lily is thoughtful, kind and always thinking of others”. Kym will also tell you that “Lily can be quiet and serious at times but she can also be outgoing and funny”. Lily is passionate about music and dance and always willing to share her favorite artists and dance steps.

The Mentor

Kym’s favorite thing to do with Lily is to just spend time together, talking, visiting and learning about her perspective on things. When she reflects on how Covid has impacted their ability to spend time together, Kym sometimes feels discouraged. But, when they are able to get together again they can always pick up where they left off, which reminds her of the bond they share. They have a comfortable ease with one another and a real sense of mutual respect.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

With their shared kind and compassionate personalities, Kym and Lily lead by example. They are regulars at our group events and always arrive with a welcoming attitude. During the months that mentoring pairs were unable to get together in person they stayed connected through texting and phone calls. They also never failed to show up for the remote mentoring events held over zoom. As things remain in flux with Covid they get together whenever they can and enjoy a variety of activities, as long as they include having the opportunity to spend time talking and catching up with one another.

Lily and Kym were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Amy Spector of Milton Mentors.

10: Lucca and Johanna - The Collaborative

Name of Mentee: Lucca
Name of Mentor: Johanna Davis
Mentoring Program: The Collaborative
Program Type: School-Based
Length of Their Match: 4 .5 months
Age of Mentee: 9

 

About This Match:

The Mentee

Lucca is a new mentee to The Collaborative’s mentor program, who had expressed interest in the program early on in the school year. With the help of her mentor, Lucca has shown growth in the classroom and is always willing to help other students and adults. Lucca’s mentor has given her another positive role model in her life, which has improved her social, emotional, and life skills. She now can express her thoughts and opinions freely without fearing backlash from others.

The Mentor

Johanna is a returning mentor to our program! She is also a 3rd grade teacher Flood brook school. Johanna’s bond with Lucca has been able to withstand schedule changes and other issues related to the challenging times that we are in. Every Time they meet, they are very enthusiastic to see each other. Joanna is a mother of two boys so being able to have a girl mentee gives her the chance to bond over the struggles of dealing with boys in the house. They love to do arts and crafts with each other! Joanna’s position at the school allows them to check in with each other throughout the week.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Although they are a new match for this school year, they have shown what it is like to have a strong relationship within the mentor program and how to be a positive role model for other students and caring adults that are in our program! This is particularly important during these challenging times.

Lucca and Johanna were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Devon Collins of The Collaborative

11: Mckenna and Deb - Twinfield Together

Name of Mentee: Mckenna
Name of Mentor: Deb Barnwell
Mentoring Program: Twinfield Together Mentoring Program
Program Type: Community/School-Based
Length of Their Match: 4 years
Age of Mentee: 14

About This Match:

The Mentee

When asked about her mentor, Mckenna said, “My mentor Deb Barnwell has been my mentor since I was in 4th grade. When I heard she could still see me while transferring schools it made me really happy, and she was very flexible with the school change. She has helped me throughout the years with some important life skills while allowing me to explore new concepts and indulge in something I liked, which is art. She has also been someone who I can openly talk to about issues and give her honest opinion which builds on the idea I may have about that issue. She has allowed me to explore concepts and activities that I may have not been able to explore without her; some being baking, sewing, and certain types of art. I am grateful for everything she does and I am glad to have her as my mentor.”

The Mentor

About her relationship with Mckenna, Deb says, “My Mentee is a feisty, lively, quirky young lady that I am very glad to call my friend. When I first became a mentor Pam inquired what kind of kid I’d work best with. I requested the adjectives I just listed above and Pam delivered and we couldn’t be a better match! As my mentee has grown, from age 10 – now 14, our activities have evolved and keep getting better. It’s been fun to watch our projects move from making Slime to going for hot chocolate and antiquing. Someday I hope we’re still meeting up for coffee and catching up. She’s been a fun friend to get out and do things with.”

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Deb and Mckenna began their friendship as an Everybody Wins! match at Twinfield in 2018 when McKenna was in 4th grade. It didn’t take long for them both to realize they wanted to spend more time together, so they joined our community-based program. When Mckenna moved to Montpelier in 6th grade, Deb and Mckenna were committed to staying together, so they continued their relationship with Twinfield Together Mentoring Program. Deb and McKenna ‘s commitment to staying together has been a great model for other mentoring pairs when there is a transition or change in someone’s life.

Mckenna and Deb were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Pam Quinn of Twinfield Together Mentoring.

12: Nevaeh and Amy - Empower UP! Mentoring

Name of Mentee: Nevaeh
Name of Mentor: Amy Daigle
Mentoring Program: Windsor Central Empower UP! Mentoring Program
Program Type: School-Based
Length of Their Match: 3 Years
Age of Mentee: 12

About This Match:

The Mentee

Nevaeh’s grandmother says that, “It’s been a huge impact on Nevaeh. She looks forward to every Wednesday with Amy. Amy helps with her reading and math, which has improved. Nevaeh loves her one on one time with Amy. Amy is a wonderful mentor.” Amy has been a consistent, positive adult in Nevaeh’s life and is committed and caring as a mentor.

The Mentor

Amy says, “I knew I wanted to get involved in the community and make a difference. I knew I wanted the experience to be in the local elementary school and for that commitment to be meaningful. The older you get you to realize that the most important gift you can give to someone is “time”. So I wanted to give my time and have a relationship with a child who may need another adult in their life. Luckily, I was matched with Nevaeh – a 3rd grader at the time – in Killington Elementary School. We began meeting every week. At first, we were not sure what this was going to look like. But, we figured it out. We learned about each other – what we like, don’t like, and introduced each other to new books, games, animals, crafts, and frequent walks with my dogs. For a lot of our time together we just walk and talk. It’s our special time in the week to take a break from class and work and just connect.”

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Amy says, “Nevaeh is now in 6th grade and we continue to find new experiences. I think it is so important for any child to know that they have someone else in their life who cares about them. I want Nevaeh to know she always has someone to turn to – no matter what. It’s also really important for my own children to see me giving back to the community and making a difference. Hopefully, they too will find ways in the future to make a difference in the world that is rewarding to them and others.”

Mentee and Mentor were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Annie Luke from Windsor Central Empower UP! Mentoring Program.

I am truly thankful for Amy and Nevaeh being a part of our mentoring program! Amy has had an amazing impact on Nevaeh, both individually and educationally, and it has been awesome to see them both grow in their mentoring relationship!” – Annie Luke

13: Zachary and Mark - Girls/Boyz First Mentoring

Name of Mentee: Zachary
Name of Mentor: Mark Billian
Mentoring Program: Girls/Boyz First Mentoring
Program Type: Community-Based
Length of Their Match: 2 years
Age of Mentee: 11

About This Match:

The Mentee

With the help of his mentor, Zachary has been able to explore a wide array of interests including building an outdoor nature observation structure, interviewing local game wardens, exploring architecture and design, working with therapy animals, and most recently studying Tae Kwon Do. Zachary and his mentor met just two months before the pandemic shut down schools in 2020. Undaunted, they have done a bunch of exploring and had a lot of fun together. Most recently, they both enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do class to build strength, resilience and confidence. Addressing Zachary’s early childhood trauma involving dogs, Mark connected with a local community member who has a therapy dog and other animals on her micro-farm and homestead. Now Zachary regularly spends time with dogs, learning basic skills for handling and directing dogs, as well as visiting with horses and chickens. It’s been wonderful to see Zachary’s confidence grow.

The Mentor

Mark and Zachary are well matched, both very sweet, gentle and inquisitive. Mark has really enjoyed having a young person in his life to spend time with, share and explore interests, and having someone to look out for. He is deeply concerned about the challenges faced by young people today—whether it be childhood trauma, bullying or social challenges due to the pandemic—and finds it very fulfilling to be Zachary’s friend and help him explore his interests.

Additional Contributions to the Program:

Opportunities have been limited due to staffing transitions and the pandemic, but the pair was able to attend our first in-person, socially distanced group activity, carving pumpkins with enthusiasm. They have also been very accommodating and encouraging when I needed mentor pair photos to increase our outreach and online presence.

Zachary and Mark were nominated as Ambassadors of Mentoring by Kim Smith of Girls/Boyz First Mentoring

14: Past Nominations

2021            2020