Future Chefs – Got Mentoring? Oh Ya!

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This year Future Chefs is starting a mentoring program to support our youth as they transition from high school into work, school, and adult life.  Building relationships with caring adults will help Future Chef’s students develop the necessary skills and behaviors they need to succeed professionally.

Before I took my position as a Highland Street Corps Ambassador of Mentoring, I didn’t realize mentoring provides students with a type of support that they don’t get from teachers, parents or guardians.  You may think, like I did when I went in for my interview, that mentors for Future Chefs students must have a culinary background but that’s not the case.  We want Future Chefs mentors to come from a variety of backgrounds, so that they will expand students’ awareness about what is possible in life—both professionally and personally.

Mentoring relationships offer many benefits for both mentors and mentees.  Mentors and mentees get to participate in fun, like exploring free events throughout the city and cooking together in the kitchen at 560 Albany Street.  While these activities are enjoyable, mentors also get the satisfaction of knowing that by taking a little time out of their busy schedule they’re positively impacting the life of a young person.  The benefits that mentees receive from quality mentoring include strengthened family relationships, and the empowerment to make smarter social choices. Find out more about the benefits of mentoring from Mass Mentoring’s 20 Ways campaign.

While learning about the benefits of mentoring, I’ve had time to reflect on informal mentors I’ve had in my own life.  Because the program we’re building at Future Chef focuses on students that are recent high school graduates, the mentor in my life that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit is my high school ceramics teacher.  She was one of my first friends at my high school, and unlike many of my peers she did not find the blue streaks in my hair off putting or my commitment to vegetarianism bizarre.  My junior year I ate lunch in her room every day and we’d talk about our mutual interest in cooking and what I was up to with my friends outside of school.  These lunches gave me a chance to vent and talk about my interests and provided me with companionship that I just hadn’t found in my classmates.

My teacher provided me with encouragement and connection during a stressful time of my life, and instilled in me the importance of seeking out adults for friendship, advice, and support—or what we now think of as mentoring.

The Future Chef’s Mentoring Program seeks to match caring, responsible adults with students to help enhance their social and professional capital by demonstrating the skills and behaviors needed to access life’s possibilities.  Are you someone who’s interested in helping youth succeed by really listening to them like the way my ceramics teacher did when I was trying to figure out where I belonged? If so, please help make this pilot year a success for our students by considering mentoring a Future Chefs participant.

YOU have the opportunity to help a young person move forward!

Written by: Erin K. Ross, Future Chefs Highland Street Ambassador of Mentoring