Last week our Volunteer Center held our third annual Mentor & Tutor Opportunity Fair. This began as a team project of the Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Charlottesville Program (also sponsored by United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area!). The first fair was so successful that we have continued it and will host this event as long as the participating agencies feel it is worthwhile.
We could not hold the fair without the sponsorship of the Charlottesville Omni Hotel, through Sales Manager Melissa Martin, one of the original project team members. Melissa wrote a very moving blog post for us that first year about why she feels so strongly about the need for mentors. Our theme for the entire month is Mentor. Tutor. Pass it on! and Melissa has done just that by become a Lunch Buddy at a local elementary school through JABA’s Friends in School Helping (FISH) program.
NBC29, Monticello Media and The Daily Progress help us build awareness all through January, and our friends at MichieHamlett Attorneys at Law not only sponsor our month-long efforts and record radio ads for us, they staff the fair and help register attendees.
And we must mention the ongoing support from Chick Fil A, that has provided yummy chicken tenders to keep us going from 11:00 – 2:00. New this year was participation by Smoothie King, that provided free 4 oz smoothies for us to enjoy.
However, what is most important is the result of all these efforts. We had many people visit the fair, and it was obvious that they were taking the time to speak at length with each organization. Any program that recruits volunteers can tell you that the best way to get a new volunteer is through a personal interaction.
If one person becomes a mentor or tutor for a child as a result of this fair, then it has been a success. Something as simple as giving a child your undivided attention for an hour or two each week can change his or her life.
If you could not come to the fair last week, check out the opportunities on our Volunteer Center website. From being a career mentor for a couple of months, to helping in an afterschool program, or connecting with a kid over a computer at Computers4Kids, you may just find that you change two lives – yours and theirs.
Posted by Kim Connolly
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