Well known locals, Alice Meravi and Vince Branigan, are enthusiastic volunteers who readily give their time to nurture the development of Benalla’s young people through Connect9, Tomorrow Today’s community-based mentoring program.
Alice and Vince share their experience of being mentors in the ten-week Connect9 program.
“What motivated you to put your hand up to mentor a young person?”
Alice – “I had always been aware of Tomorrow Today’s work in the Benalla community and thought mentoring would be a great way to become involved. Finding out more about Connect9, I realised the commitment was attainable for me – being in the evening and for a set period of time.”
Vince – “Being a teacher and a year level coordinator, I am very much of the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. Research tells us that older males play a critical role in mentoring and molding boys’ positive attitudes towards schooling and females.”
“What does your mentor role involve?”
Alice – “Connect9 pairs you with a Year 9 student. As a mentor, I guide them through the planned activities and show them what Benalla has to offer.”
Vince – “As Alice said, all of the activities, such as cooking, visiting the Benalla Art Gallery or Library, are planned and organised by Tomorrow Today. I find the time spent driving mentees home invaluable. This is a time when I can offer one-on-one support and really find out what is going on for the young person.”
“What do young people gain from being involved in Connect9?”
Alice – “Year 9 is such a pivotal time in a young person’s life. Supporting them to explore local sports and recreation activities as well as career pathways, helps keep them focused on their education and future.”
Vince – “Young people are linked with someone who is interested in their wellbeing and future. Investing in their development pays dividends later on.”
“What is the most rewarding part of being a mentor?”
Alice – “Seeing young people blossom and realise what is available to them. It is wonderful to see their confidence grow as they understand their own potential.”
Vince – “It is rewarding to see the mentees go on to complete Year 12. Connect9 has an amazing strike rate of keeping kids at school.”
“What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Connect9 mentor?”
Alice – “Absolutely do it! It is an incredibly rewarding experience that has a massive impact on young people and the community alike. A huge bonus is that it is well suited to time poor people.”
Vince – “Do it! It is a great opportunity to give your time and talent back to the community by investing in our young people.” Tomorrow Today is currently recruiting male and female mentors for this year’s Connect9 program. Mentors are provided with training, guidance and support. If you would like to be a part of this great local program, contact Cathy Hair, Student Wellbeing and Volunteer Coordinator, Tomorrow Today on (03) 5762 1211.