Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Your Donation Helps Trusted Mentors meet the need in 2019

As we approach year's end, I am turning to you to make a financial donation to help Trusted Mentors continue this important work.  The needs continue to grow, as funding becomes tighter.  
Our end of the year goal is to raise $30,000. This is double the amount that we've raised in past years so every donation will make a difference towards achieving it! 

Can you help us mentor more in 2019?  The need increases to mentor more young adults as they become independent adults. The need increases to help more people successfully leave prison and become employed leading to the ability to give back. The need increases to provide a supportive mentor that helps people remain housed and not give up to return to the streets. 

There are multiple ways to make a donation. Please take the time to make this important contribution. You can: 

Text "Give2018" to 50155 and follow the prompts

Mail a check to Trusted Mentors, 546 E. 17th St, Suite 102, Indianapolis, IN 46202

 And talk to us about sponsorship of our 2019 Upcoming Events! Individual and corporate sponsors are welcome!
 THANK YOU for all you do!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Trusted Mentors, the wind under a mentor's wings

This blog is a copy of a speech given by Louise, a mentor with one of our partner agencies, the Changing Lives Forever (CLF) through St. Vincent de Paul.  She spoke at a recruitment event for the program at Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Catholic Church. It provides a perspective on both the program and the act of being a mentor.

"I am a mentor with the Changing Lives Forever program. Started by St. Vincent DePaul in 2011, IHM hosted its first class last year at the MLK Center at 40th & Penn. Changing Lives Forever is a 16 week program free and open to anyone who wants to begin a journey to change their lives.  

These participants have had any number of obstacles in their lives: poverty, poor choices, poor opportunity – the CLF program offers them the resources and tools they need to make real, lasting changes in their lives.  

Because no life is totally changed in 16 weeks, program participants are offered the option of a mentor to continue the journey with them for 12-18 months.  

I am here today to ask you to consider becoming a mentor.  

I was quite hesitant last year when a similar call was made. How in the world would I know what to say, what to do? How would I not want to just “rescue” my mentee, giving her fish rather than teaching her how to fish? How would I have the presence of mind to say and do the right thing, which is rarely the same as the easiest thing? And further, my work and travel schedule would make it hard for me to be a constant and consistent presence.  

Making no serious commitment, I signed up and attended the two training classes conducted by an organization I’d never heard of: Trusted Mentors. It turns out, they are truly the wind under a mentor’s wings. The training is excellent and best of all, I was assigned a match manager who is available any time I need her.  

And oh boy, have I needed her. I was assigned to Beth, a 48 yr old woman. Beth had lost her way so many years ago and between alcohol and some bad choices, she is unemployed, trying to stay sober and tentatively living with her daughter and granddaughters. Beth and I have been through a lot since we were matched in January. As I got my footing, my Trusted Mentors match manager and Diane Powers helped and supported me. They are there any time I need advice. Beth is still very much a work in progress, but I have learned how to be her advocate, a steadfast presence who sees hope when she and everyone around her wants to give up on her.  

I will never get Mentor of the Year. I am gone a lot, Beth is hard to reach because she has no cell phone or email, but I am in this for the long haul. Beth and I share a dream of her sober, employed, with a small place to call her own. With agency, making her own decisions. She knows I am like her external conscience, not letting her give up on herself.  

This year’s class at IHM has 11 women and 3 men. They are parents, grandparents, singles, a few are veterans. With so many women, there will be an especial need for female mentors. This Wednesday, Sept 12 at 6:00pm in the Gathering Space there is an information session for anyone even slightly interested. No commitment! As a human being, you have what it takes to be a mentor – and you will be supported. God does not call the equipped, God equips the called. 

I was born standing on 3rd base, with so many advantages. Most of us here were. But as that song I’ve sung a million times says: Whatsoever you do for the least of your brothers and sisters, that you do unto me. " 

Are you ready to mentor? Click on the Volunteer button and sign up! 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Our year end goal is to raise double what we've raised before

As we approach year’s end, I am turning to you to make a financial donation to help Trusted Mentors continue this important work.  The needs continue to grow, as funding becomes tighter.  Due to financial constraints, we were not able to fill the operations director position during this past year and it has made a difference in the number of people we can mentor.
Can you help us mentor more in 2019?

Our end of the year goal is to raise $30,000. This is double the amount that we’ve raised in past years so every donation will make a difference towards achieving it!

There are multiple ways to make a donation:
            Donate on-line through our Trusted Mentors secure website.
            Text “Give2018” to 50155 and follow the prompts
            Mail a check to Trusted Mentors, 546 E. 17th St, Suite 102, Indianapolis, IN 46202

And talk to us about sponsorship of our 2019 Upcoming Events! Individual and corporate sponsors are needed! You can email us at 

THANK YOU for all you do 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cold. Alone. Tired.

Imagine being 61 and homeless, living on the streets during the winters of Indianapolis, with a speech impediment that limits communication.  You can help us help people stay housed! 

Matt had been chronically homeless when we met him. Giving up old behaviors was hard. His first mentor, Mike, developed a good friendship with Matt in spite of the difficult communication. They met regularly for coffee.

And Matt stayed housed.

When Mike became sick, Matt visited him to show he cared. Due to health, Matt was matched with a new mentor, Lance. When Mike passed away, Lance and Matt attended his funeral together. Now, they also meet regularly for coffee. They attend church together and celebrate Thanksgiving at Lance’s home.

And Matt stays housed.

He’s well-liked by the people in his apartment complex and volunteers regularly. Recently, Matt became sick. Lance visited him in the hospital and followed up when he returned home. Matt doesn’t have an extended family to support and encourage him to stay healthy, so Lance is important. He is a mentor and friend.

At Trusted Mentors, everyone we mentor is 18 and older. They are at risk of homelessness or returning from prison. And 30% of the people we mentor are over the age of 50.

A mentor can assist in many ways. We don’t always know how they will make an impact but the key is to first build a caring relationship. We know that Trusted Mentors means a lot to Matt, and Matt means a lot to us. We think it saves money for our community when people remain housed and give back to the community.

The estimated annual cost of homelessness in Indianapolis is $73 million dollars. Homelessness is a drain on our health care services. It impacts the criminal justice system. Helping people stay housed is important to reducing the cost of homelessness.

Trusted Mentors is doing what no one else is doing. With a direct impact in the community. With a 90% success rate, mentors make a difference.

Your financial support has a direct impact on the people we mentor. Every dollar donated assists us in matching and supporting trained, volunteer mentors that help more people stay housed and out of prison. Thank you for your generous support! Donate on-line or donations can be mailed to our offices: Trusted Mentors, 546 E. 17th St, Suite 102, Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

"A Brother, A Friend and a Father...."

John entered the Changing Lives Program unsure of what he was in for. He felt like quitting in the first two weeks, but  his fellow investigators encouraged him to stick with the course because they saw something in him. 

Before entering the program, John had experienced homelessness, unemployment, incarceration and addiction. He wasn’t sure that his life would change by taking Changing Lives course but he stuck with it anyway. John was surprised to find a sense of community among his fellow investigators, who had also been impacted by many of the same challenges. Together, they graduated from the 18 week course with more knowledge about how poverty had impacted their lives and  resources they could use to get ahead.  .

“And then I became matched with my mentor”, John said. John and Gary were matched as a mentee/mentor pair on the date of John’s graduation. 

Gary, who is retired, had tutored young people his whole life and had never mentored an adult. “When I first came to the program, I didn’t know how helpful I could be in mentoring adults because I was unsure of their ability to change at this point”, Gary stated. He adds “Out of all the mentoring and tutoring programs I’ve done, Trusted Mentors is the best”. 

As Gary started mentoring John, Gary did in fact see the changes that John was able to make in a short period of time. John found employment at Mission 27, a retail store for St. Vincent DePaul, and he is well-liked by fellow co-workers, volunteers and customers. John has stable housing and for the first time in his life, attends church. Gary and John meet every week and always end their session with prayer.  “Gary is like a mentor, a brother, a friend and a father”, John stated with tears in his eyes. Gary shared the same sentiment about John, saying that he treats him as one of his own children.  John and Gary continue to build a positive relationship. 

Both have been transformed by the power of mentoring.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lessons Learned – Mentorship without a Mentor

We asked others to write about the power of mentoring during National Mentoring Month.  This blog is  from Nick Jaworski, owner of Circle Social Inc, a digital marketing agency that helps recovery centers and other behavioral health organizations connect with patients and their communities to grow their census. He is also passionate about entrepreneurship and community leadership. Nick shares experiences that have helped him learn that mentoring is as much art as science. 

Most people have a mentor in life, a teacher, a coach, a parent, or a manager that they can point to and say, “this person showed me the way.”

I’ve never really had that. I’ve definitely been fortunate to know and work with some great people. But I never really had one person take me under their wing to show me the way. Maybe part of the reason is because I’m stubborn, like to move fast, and tend to seek out answers before they’re given J.

I often set my own goals and then figure out how to get there, but there are many times in my life where I would certainly have enjoyed some guidance. Maybe that’s why I love mentoring others.
My mentoring journey really started in college when I began working with at-risk youth at our local domestic abuse shelter in the children’s group. Since then, I’ve had many mentorship opportunities.
I facilitated the promotion of over 15 of my direct reports to leadership or management positions while working as a Director for Disney in China and most recently mentored 100 startups alongside billionaire investor Tim Draper at Startup Istanbul.

But it doesn’t really matter what I’ve done as much as what I’ve learned. Not really having models to go off of, I’ve certainly made a lot of mistakes along the way and it’s my mistakes I’d like to share, because every mistake is an opportunity to learn and do better. I hope that by sharing some of my mistakes, you can learn to avoid them yourself.

Giving Feedback Is Not Always the Right Choice
-          In college, I mentored at a brand new, project-based charter school. The charter school movement was just getting started and nobody was really sure how to run them. My job was to walk around and engage the high school students in their projects. I enjoyed helping these young adults learn.

One day, I walked up to one of the students and asked her if I could take a look at her progress. She refused. I told her I just wanted to see how things were coming along.

She responded, “Why? So you can tell me everything that’s wrong with it?”

I’ll never forget that response. I realized that the majority of the feedback I gave, and the majority of feedback teachers often give, is critical in nature. We seek to correct to improve, but constantly being corrected is not fun, as anyone who regularly receives critical feedback from their boss knows.

I took two lessons to heart that day. 1) Positive encouragement is a very important part of feedback and 2) not every interaction in a mentor/mentee relationship has to be about correcting perceived weaknesses.

Know Your Audience
-         I was working as the Director of a school in Istanbul where I had just hired on a new teacher who had a master’s degree. I was quite excited as it’s not easy to find masters degreed teachers in Turkey.

Upon watching her first class, my excitement ended. I sat through one of the most boring, jargon-filled lessons I’d seen up until that time.

After the lesson, I spoke with her about my observations both of students’ eyes glazing over as well as my own feeling of boredom during her lesson.

She broke down in tears and sobbed for a full 10 minutes. I was caught entirely off guard. Here was a thirty-something year old woman with a master’s degree, sobbing because of a little feedback.

She quit that day and never came back.

While, ultimately, our school was better off without her, I was stuck covering classes for 3 weeks until we found and trained a new teacher.

I learned that you really need to get to know a person before providing feedback to determine how much they can handle and what kind of feedback they can handle. Education level and age don’t necessarily translate to fortitude.

Also, while I didn’t learn this till much later, I eventually figured out that feedback is best provided by the individual coming to their own conclusions based on objective observations.

Rather than calling the lesson boring, I could have highlighted the students’ lack of interest and asked her to think about why. Then ask what she could do to increase their interest. This way, the critical feedback would come from within and I would not have been throwing a judgement on the observation.
      Keep It Professional
-         This is not a story about me, but something I’ve seen more than a few others do, especially in a managerial role. They become friends with their mentee and share information that should not be shared based on their job roles.

A manager takes an employee under their wing and works to develop them. This also translates into social engagements after work, maybe going to the bar or a café.

As the relationship moves more from mentor/mentee to friends, the manager starts to divulge some of their own challenges with other employees. Well, this inevitably gets out as the mentee often does not have the professional wherewithal to withhold that information.

The office turns into a place of politics, gossip, and perceived or real favoritism. It’s never a good situation.

There also may come a time where the mentee, for whatever reason, is not working out. Suddenly, they’ve become a problem employee. But taking corrective action becomes very hard, because a friendship has developed.

These are tough situations. We obviously want to work with people we can consider friends. But my opinion is that there must always be a level of professional distance.

Learn to Let Go
-         I’m a passionate person and truly believe in helping others. This can lead me to giving people too many chances or letting slides in performance go on too long before taking action.

There are numerous times in my career where I would see performance turn south with an individual. One such time, we had an employee I was trying to develop into a leadership role. He had been very enthusiastic starting out.

But he never quite exhibited the traits we needed to move him to the next level. He started to feel that it was taking too long for him to advance, so, unbeknownst to us, he started looking for a new position. He found one and was offered a significant increase in salary, but he was under a strict non-compete that we would not let him out of.

As he’d been working with us for quite some time, and had originally shown a lot of promise, I kept trying to work with him and get him to reset expectations on how fast he would be able to advance.

Well, as you can imagine, things continued to go downhill and, then eventually, he just didn’t show up for work one day. In retrospect, once his attitude soured, I should have just let him go, but it was hard as I’d invested a lot of time in him from the beginning and we’d been through numerous challenges together.

However, it wasn’t worth all the negative energy that ended up not just affecting me, but other members of the team as well.

Over the years, I’ve become much better about just ripping the band-aid off when necessary. It’s not a benefit to you or them to continue a relationship that has soured.

One of the things I truly enjoy about mentoring is that it’s an opportunity for you to learn as much as the mentee. They often say that teaching something is the best way to learn it, and I’ve definitely found that to be true with leadership, which is often much more art than science.