From the classroom to the board room: The impact of mentorship in our community - United Way Alberta Capital Region

From the classroom to the board room: The impact of mentorship in our community

January 10, 2024

Adult with workplace mentor
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In celebration of National Mentoring Month, United Way supporters share how mentorship has shaped their lives and why they champion this important volunteer opportunity that supports mental wellness and grows their skills.

Every January, National Mentoring Month celebrates the positive impact of mentorship. It’s a time to recognize the benefits that mentorship has on mentors, mentees, and the community. National Mentoring Month aims to raise awareness and get people excited to support mentorship in their community.

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region believes in working together so no one is left behind in order to build a stronger, more vibrant community. That’s why mentorship is a big part of what we do. We encourage and support mentorship in our community through volunteer opportunities, programs, and initiatives.

Mentorship is a powerful force for personal and professional growth, no matter where you’re at in life. For adults, it boosts self-growth and confidence. For children, it means doing better in school, joining more activities, having fewer behavioural problems, and being less likely to be bullied.

Mentorship is all about making a positive impact on everyone involved. It helps people grow, supports inclusivity, and strengthens mental wellbeing. Mentorship is a lifelong journey that creates strong connections, encourages growth, and builds a community that thrives together.

Young Kid being Mentored by Older Man

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Empowering children through community mentorship

United Way supports mentorship in our community by partnering with agencies like Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area (BGCBigs). BGCGigs provides mentoring to kids so they have the tools they need to be successful. BGCBigs continues to make a positive impact on the lives of many, like Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji.

As a child, Danisha was a mentee, or Little Sister, during a traumatic time in her life.

“Having someone there for me during a tough time made me believe in volunteering and caring for the community,” Danisha shares, explaining how her experience shaped her desire to give back.

Today, Danisha is a Big Sister, works with BCGBigs, and volunteers as a co-chair for Women United.

Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji (R), Women United co-chair is seen here with her Big Sister

Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji (R), and her Big Sister.

“Working for an agency that shaped my life has marked my career path, and being a Big Sister has helped define who I am as a mother, sister, and friend.”

— Danisha Bhaloo-Shivji,
Former Little sister and current co-chair of United Way’s Women United Cabinet.

Danisha joined Women United so that her daughter can grow up in a world where she has equitable opportunities in life.

“Women United fills the gaps and represents ALL women,” says Danisha, noting that Women United supports agencies doing great work in our community through mentorship, like BCGBigs.

All in for Youth student Stella and her mentor Bianca connect during the school day.

All in for Youth student Stella and her mentor Bianca connect during the school day.

School mentors nurture growth in the classroom and beyond

All in for Youth, a collaboration between United Way and nine other community partners, supports students and families from Kindergarten through Grade 12 with holistic in-school supports — including volunteer mentors.  Students and mentors spend time together every week for a year or more, building friendships, having fun, and working on schoolwork together.

“The thing that’s great about mentorship is that it pushes you to try new things,” says Stella, an All in for Youth student.

“A good match doesn’t mean being the same or liking the same things. It’s about meeting new people, having new experiences, and learning from each other.”

Stella has been in the mentoring program for two years, and during this time she has learned to be herself and to focus on things that inspire her.

Mentorship is a two-way street. There are benefits for the mentor too. Bianca Castillo, Stella’s mentor, recognizes that she has learned and grown throughout the experience.

“Seeing and hearing Stella have fun reminds me to have fun in life, even as an adult,” Bianca shares.

Mentorship in the workplace helps cultivate success

United Way’s Mentoring for Success program is designed for up-and-coming employees in the workplace who take part in United Way’s Sponsored Campaign Representative program. It offers them opportunities to grow professionally, personally, and within their community.

Mentees work with volunteer mentors to boost their confidence, gain new perspectives, and learn new skills.

Corinna Mulyk, volunteer mentor with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region's Mentoring for Success Program.

Corrina Mulyk

“I find personal satisfaction in being a ‘thinking partner’ to someone, helping them explore who they are and how that shapes them as a leader, and bringing out their strengths to help them succeed in whatever challenges they choose to take on next.”

— Corinna Mulyk,
Volunteer mentor with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s
Mentoring for Success program.

Corinna Mulyk has been a mentor in the program for six years. In a recent pairing, Corinna saw her mentee gain a clearer understanding of her journey towards advancing her career and finding greater personal fulfillment. One exercise Corinna recommended was for her mentee to ask trusted individuals how they see her and what her ‘superpowers’ are.

“I think this was an eye-opening experience for her. It helped her build confidence in her skills and personal qualities, and she’s able to take more risks because of it.”

From early childhood and well into adulthood, having a mentor can boost self-esteem, build social skills, and strengthen mental wellbeing. These supportive relationships create strong connections, encourage growth, and build resilience.

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Get Involved

Mentorship helps build strong communities. Together, we can create a community where everyone thrives.

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