Shaun Morris from Appleby addressed the club on the topic of "Participation by Corporate Bermuda in Mentoring Programmes". He was joined by Janita Burke a committed and passionate YouthNet mentor. She is a member of the Board of Directors of YouthNet and a former Chairman of the Board of Directors of YouthNet


Appleby and The Berkeley Institute recently launched the A2B Mentoring Programme with support from YouthNet. Presently, the A2B Programme is described as "powered by YouthNet". YouthNet provides the requisite infrastructural support and effectively carries out all of the administrative functions that are associated with running a successful mentoring programme.  Our role as mentors is simply to turn up and do our job.  The Appleby mentors are required to meet with their mentees at the school once a week during lunch hour and the programme will run when school is in session.  Our desired outcome is "to keep students focused through mentoring by supporting academic, career and personal development" and to foster life altering changes in the lives of young students at the Berkeley Institute.  There are presently thirty two Appleby mentors who participate in the programme.

               In light of the current social climate in the Island I am convinced that more participation by corporate Bermuda in mentoring programmes is not only desirable but necessary.  This participation can take place at three levels: the development of a private-sector mentoring programme such as A2B; the donation of funds to YouthNet, the Island's only formal school- based mentoring programme or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda a well-known community-based mentoring programme; and the enhancement of a culture of philanthropy whereby employees are encouraged to participate as mentors in mentoring programmes.

            YouthNet is a school-based mentoring programme (established in 1999) whose mission is keeping students focused through mentoring.  Their theme is "unlocking the potential in youth" and their vision is to be able to provide a mentor to any child who should want one.  The programme matches an with a primary school, middle school or senior school student and mentors spend one hour a week with their mentees on a one-to-one basis or a group basis.  The organisation is run by a group of volunteers. As at 2007 there were over 500 relationships in 18 schools. They are hoping to record 650 relationships by June 2008.

            Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda was established in 1978 following the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Model established in the United States in 1913.  The programme is a community-based mentoring programme where an adult (big brother) or big sister acts as a mentor and role model to a younger mentee. This organisation is run by a group of volunteers. At present there are 109 mentor-mentee relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda is hoping to record 200 relationships by June 2010.

            Let us begin by putting things into context. What is mentoring?  Mentoring refers to a process (as opposed to a one off event) whereby an older more experienced adult (mentor) enters into a relationship with an unrelated protégé (mentee) and provides ongoing guidance, counsel, coaching and encouragement. Mentoring provides a framework for the mentee to develop their character and competence so that they can "be all that they can be".   "When I think about being a mentor, I recall the story of the starfish. A beachcomber is walking along the beach one morning when he sees a young man running up and down by the water's edge throwing something into the water. Curious, he walks toward the runner and watches him picking up starfish stranded by the tide and tossing them back into the ocean "young man," he says 'there are so many starfish on the beach. What difference does it make to save a few?" The young man replies." It made a difference to this one".   Mentors do just that- make a difference for one person at a time.

            The business community is asking more of their work force than they did in years past.  Employers are demanding high level skill sets.  Having access to a good education has become even more of a priority.  The bottom line is that we must offer a framework within which students are able to survive and thrive; otherwise we might end up in a perpetual cycle of social problems and dysfunction.  As more mentoring relationships are constructed and sustained, there are greater prospects for infusing a sense of hope and positive spirit in our school environment, the lives of our young people and the community as a whole. 

            It has been stated "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove, but the world [Bermuda] might be a better place because I was important in the life of a child".