BCYMP’s first Core Value is Relationship, so during this time of social distancing, we have prioritized keeping our BCYMP Mentoring Pairs and Volunteers connected.
We continue to share resources with our BCYMP Mentors from The National Mentoring Partnership on how to maintain connection at a distance. These include being mindful about how the pandemic may trigger trauma, being intentional about preserving continuity in the relationship, and communicating through different channels when face-to-face mentoring isn’t possible.. For example, Mentors have reported writing letters, calling and texting, and even playing online games with their Mentees. Two BCYMP Mentors even recently hid Easter eggs in their Mentees’ yards and left baskets of goodies.
BCYMP has also expanded its group mentoring program for K-5 students during the last month. Originally, this small group mentoring was a program piloted at Dakota Prairie and Camelot last fall, and was planned again for this Spring before the quarantine began. Instead, we’ve moved that virtually and opened it to all K-5 grade students on our waiting list. Each group is led by two adult volunteers, and the planned activities are linked to the relationship-building framework BCYMP uses to train, monitor and support the Mentors. At one recent small group, the participants had fun with at at-home scavenger hunt.
We are grateful, too, for community resources like the Brookings Arts Council and Children’s Museum of South Dakota who have virtual classes available for Mentoring Pairs to take. Recently, for example, DeeDee and Ada, attended a tulip-painting class. In the past, they’ve also enjoyed attending BAC classes, so creating together again was a nice bit of “normal” during this time. BCYMP Mentoring Pairs who want to attend future classes can contact us to register them.
BCYMP’s Volunteer Coordinator, Ali Teesdale, has also been holding office hours, increasing the number of calls she makes to Mentors during the month, and is regularly posting fun ideas and examples on our private FB page for Mentors.
And, finally, the BCYMP Board and Committee Members are meeting virtually to attend to the business of BCYMP and, in some cases, just to check in and connect. All of these practices, although not something we had anticipated doing in 2020, have only increased the options we have for staying connected in the future.
If you would like to become a BCYMP Mentor or Volunteer, now is a perfect time. To apply as a BCYMP Mentor, please click here to fill out the application, and we will send you links to the pre-service training that will take approximately three hours to complete. We also have non-mentoring volunteer opportunities available, so please reach out via email if you’re interested in supporting BCYMP’s mission to increase resiliency and protective factors for K-12th grade youth in our community. Thank you!