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The incredible power of mentoring

January is National Mentoring Month, celebrating the positive effect it can have while encouraging individuals to mentor.

It started in 2002 as a time to celebrate the power of mentoring and encourage others to explore how mentoring programs can enable organizations to create more productive, engaged and satisfied people.

We reached out to leaders in a few of our geographic affiliates, and a few of their board members shared how mentoring has impacted them:

Steve Klessig, chair of the Brillion Family of Funds:

Steve Klessig

“I am the beneficiary of people who took the time out of their lives to invest in mine — that has been priceless to me. In return, I feel it is an obligation for all of us to mentor others.

“We all have something of value that can benefit another person. It is our God-directed responsibility to mentor the people who come behind us. When you get there, turn around and pull someone forward to join you, and hopefully surpass you. That is mentoring.”

Raquel Strayer, chair of the Shawano Area Community Foundation:

Raquel Strayer

“I can’t think of any one person who stands out in my life as a mentor. I have been a pretty much ‘do it yourself’ person my entire life. I was on my own most of my life and had to fend for myself since my teens. Having not much of anything, it made me become resourceful. From early on, I worked several jobs to make ends meet, but at each job I learned something that helped me move up the ladder. I never hesitated to apply for a job if I thought I could do it. I continued my education even if it was one class at a time. I always took time to help others because there was always someone who helped me along the way.

“Once I began working in education, I saw how so many youth and families struggled just like I did. I found myself trying to help kids so they did not go through some of the same struggles I went through. When I got married and became a parent, I did not want my kids to grow up like I did. I was the minivan mom with a house full of neighbor kids every day. We went to church as a family, we ate at the dinner table as a family, we became involved in family activities. Both of my boys joined scouting as Tiger cubs in first grade and I became a Scout leader. (I was in Girls Scouts and a YMCA member as a youth). That is what opened the door to a life of service.

“Scouting provided a wonderful opportunity for community service. Together, our family went through Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts to Eagle Scouts. Our family volunteered and worked at a summer camp where there was always an opportunity to mentor others. Today, my life is full and I volunteer somewhere almost every day. I believe that I must lead by example and mentor others to be good leaders, volunteers and community members.”

Tim Neuville

Tim Neuville, board member of the Waupaca Area Community Foundation:

“I was blessed having my father, Morrie Neuville, mentor me until he passed a year ago. He had many sages of wisdom that became integral to my life and management style.”

Here are some lessons from Morrie Neuville that he passed on to his son, Tim:

  1.  Faith, family and friends are the secret to happiness and fulfillment in life.
  2. Respect. I remember him telling me that problems at work can vary in seriousness but treat anyone who brings them to you with equal importance because they are equally important to them.
  3. Remember that words once said can never be forgotten so be slow to anger and give those upset time to calm down before conversations take place.
  4. If you want advice, get people together and ask for suggestions starting with the least senior because if you start with a senior manager and he/she says “I think we should do it this way,” others will be hesitant to contradict or express their true feelings.
  5. If you know what you want to do, don’t ask others what they think you should do. Just set your plan in motion.
  6. There is never a bad time to thank someone, and a kind word can change a person’s day, so keep looking for opportunities!
  7. Giving is always more fun and brings you more happiness than receiving.
  8. Listening. It’s an art. Listen to understand. Remember you have two ears and only one mouth.

Thank you to our affiliates’ board members for sharing the importance of mentoring!

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