Deb Gordon spotlighted National Mentoring Month with guests, Matilda Raffa Cuomo – Former First Lady of New York and Founder of Mentoring USA; Stephen Powell, the organization’s Executive Director; and New York meteorologist and TV & radio personality, Mr. G.
Ms. Cuomo founded Mentoring USA in 1995 at the suggestion of her husband Governor Mario Cuomo, as a non-partisan effort to help combat many of the problems affecting underserved young people who were dropping out of school at rapid rates. Mentoring USA is a one-to-one site-based mentoring program that provides caring, trained mentors to young people age 7 through 21 to enable them to realize their full potential.
Ms. Cuomo, Mr. Powell and Mr. G discussed the positive benefits of mentorship in their lives and also the positive impact of mentorship on society as a whole. Also discussed was Mentoring USA’s proven track record of success and some of the innovative programs they offer which include career development, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Mentoring USA continues to grow to meet the needs of the community by developing new programs to address current issues and concerns such as BRAVE, which is an anti-bullying, anti-violence and diversity appreciation initiative.
Ms. Cuomo also discussed the newest installment of “The Person Who Saved My Life”, a book which contains the recollections of many prominent people about their experiences with mentorship. Ms. Cuomo edited the book and the forward was written by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Harry Belafonte, Bill Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Whoopi Goldberg are among those whose accounts of mentorship are portrayed, and Ms. Cuomo made special mention of Senator John McCain’s very poignant story as recounted in the book.
Mr. G discussed the profound effect being mentored by his former professor had on him after his father died and he was going through a difficult time without a positive male figure in his life. He described the lasting bond they developed and the friendship that was sustained throughout his mentor’s later years which he credits with helping to shape his career and successes. Mr. G also spoke about how mentorship addresses the nurturing and other pressing needs of children, many of whom may not be the brightest or most creative, but with the help of a mentor can persevere and thrive.
Mr. Powell, a New Jersey native, has lead Mentoring USA’s program expansion efforts, and is acknowledged as being a large part of the organization’s growth and success. Mr. Powell has also been recognized by the White House for his work. “Everybody on this planet needs a mentor” stated Mr. Powell, as he expanded on the benefits of mentoring and discussed his experiences of being mentored as a child and how he was positively impacted. He also relayed his first-hand experiences of being a mentor to others, and encouraged listeners to become involved in mentorship, not only as a form of giving back, but because it is a rewarding and enriching experience that helps to “provide a bright pathway for young people who might be in a situation where there seems to be darkness and bleakness”.
Proceeds from the sale of “The Person Who Changed My Life” helps to fund Mentoring USA’s many programs and services. For more information about purchasing the book, to learn more about mentorship opportunities, and to find a mentor, visit www.mentoringusa.org.
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