They always said the best teachers get more from the students than the students get from the teacher. I agree, being a mentor has already taught me so much, and being a new father I need all the help I can get!
It’s a project that the YMCA across Canada is trying out based on a program developed in Scotland to help their youth. Regina is one of the four cities across Canada to piloting the program along with Moncton (NB), Montréal (QC), and Surrey (BC). Once a week you meet with your match and hang out at the YMCA (whichever location you want). You have access to a gym, track, pool, kitchen, games room, spin, rock climbing, yoga, really anything the Y offers. It’s AMAZING!
How do you join?
You fill out a form, get a criminal record check, do the online training, attend a training session and BOOM you’re a mentor. It’s that easy! Literally less than a couple of hours of your time and you get a Y membership and start hanging out with your match.
What do we usually do when we meet?
We play a lot of Ping Pong, Foosball, Floor Hockey, Football, Basketball and we’re learning how to use the weight room. We lose track of time each week and we usually get told we have to leave because our couple hours is up. One week we even made my famous brownies, yup they have a commercial kitchen you are allowed to use (I was in heaven!)
Yes I was terrified the first time I showed up but the YMCA staff make you feel comfortable and the fear turned into excitement because the fellow I was matched with was just awesome! We got along instantly.
Why do I think you should join Plus One Mentoring?
Why I think you should become a mentor? I coached for Nine years, I loved every minute of it, but I was always pulled in different areas, rarely having time for one-on-one with a player. With Plusone you really get to know someone, they also get to know you, it’s a very rewarding process. I learn something new every week.
Every child deserves a positive influence to look up to
Other than the fact that adult males are the most difficult to attract to be mentors, Plus One needs more adults to help out. They get a lot of child referrals and it breaks my heart to know there aren’t enough adult matches for each kid.
So here are my top 3 reasons out of 1,000 I could come up with:
1. It’s a simple way to give back
I was brought up to care about my community and to appreciate those people who made my life better as a kid. I lucked out when I was young, I had amazing coaches, great sports teams and the coaches and teachers in my life made me the person I am today. I smile when I think about my favourite coaches or teachers, I still bring up lessons learned almost daily. I like the thought that one day someone may remember the time they spent with me in a very positive light.
2. You learn a lot about yourself
You can’t learn about yourself unless you try new things. Being a mentor where you’re trying new things each week is a great way to learn about what stresses you, what pisses you off and what makes you happy. I love competing, and love showing people how to compete at anything with a positive attitude. I like to practice things and get better at them, I’m currently getting a lot better at Foosball, Ping Pong and floor hockey!
3. You never know when you’re going to need a service like YMCA Plusone
Today you, tomorrow me.
On reddit one day there was a story about why one fellow always picks up hitchhikers (it’s a long story, I’ll post below) at the end of the story after he’d been stranded for hours, was helped by a very poor immigrant family. He pleads with them to take a $20 bill as a thank you. They refuse and the response from the gentleman that helped him I’ll never forget: today you, tomorrow me. Read the story, you’ll be in tears.
But that’s the human connection at work. We never know when we will need the help, we never know when we’ll be stranded on the side of a highway. It’s much more rewarding to live a life of service to others. Yes Plusone isn’t changing lives daily, but you never know when a life will be changed by your actions.
Two hours a week is a small price to pay to help someone navigate this world.