The mission of the Starfish Mentoring Program is to inspire and empower young people in Rappahannock County to meaningfully connect with their community. We accomplish this through regular engagement with trained mentors who provide guidance, support, information and encouragement.
The Starfish Mentoring Program envisions cultivating healthy relationships between mentors and mentees that broadens horizons and unleashes individual potential in the youth we serve. Our goal is to pair every young person in Rappahannock County who is in need of mentoring with a trained adult mentor.
What We Value
- Healthy interpersonal relationships
- Connection to community
- Empowering others
- Lifelong learning
- Treating others with empathy and kindness
The History of Starfish
The Starfish Mentoring Program was created in 1997 by a dedicated group of volunteers who believed that mentoring served a vital purpose in the lives of young people. After consulting with individuals in social service departments and within the school system, this group discovered that countless children in Rappahannock County were in need of positive and consistent support. They realized that our community had no formal mentoring program, which was a real loss for students who needed an extra dose of support to reach the next level in their journey. This hardworking group put their heads together and the Starfish Mentoring Program was born under the wing of the Headwaters Foundation. The central mission of Starfish in 1997 was to provide one-on-one mentoring support for Rappahannock youth between the ages of 5 and 17. In the present day, the program still revolves around that core mission.
How Does the Starfish Mentoring Program Work?
Youth who are accepted into the Starfish Mentoring Program are matched with a volunteer mentor who best fits the needs of that youth. The mentors are trained adult volunteers who meet regularly with these young people and assist them in setting goals, developing a support system, learning new skills, increasing self confidence and more. The program works closely with parents and the public schools and is comprised solely of volunteers and managed by a paid program director.
Starfish provides the vital support that many children need in meeting the social, emotional, and academic challenges of childhood and adolescence. Mentoring activities may be social, educational or recreational. A mentor can often make the difference as to whether or not a child succeeds in developing the self-esteem and confidence necessary to grow into a healthy, productive adult.
Requirements for Being a Mentor in Our Program
Mentors in our program must:
- Be over the age of 21
- Live in Rappahannock County or be willing to travel to Rappahannock to engage with their mentee regularly
- Have reliable transportation
- Undergo a background check prior to working with youth
- Commit to spending at least 1-2 hours per week engaging with their mentee
- Commit to working with their mentee for at least six months
- Follow through on engaging with their mentee regularly
- Complete a one-time 6-hour orientation training prior to working with youth
Requirements for Being a Mentee in Our Program
The young people in our program must:
- Must be between the ages of 5 and 17 (note: youth may be enrolled in our program until they graduate from high school)
- Live in Rappahannock County
- Commit to spending at least 1-2 hours per week with their mentor
- Commit to working with their mentor for at least 6 months
- Make a deliberate effort to develop the mentoring relationship by sharing experiences, discussing goals, and identifying barriers to success
Breaking Down Mentoring Myths
Myth: I don’t have the skills that are necessary to be a mentor.
Fact: Many adults assume they do not have the skills needed or believe they cannot make the required commitment to be a mentor. Sadly, they never discover how naturally mentoring comes to most of us and how easy it is to do. To be an effective mentor, you must care about youth and be willing to spend regular and consistent time with them in order to foster a meaningful relationship. In addition to a 6-hour orientation training, mentors receive ongoing training and support from the Starfish Program Director and Headwaters Foundation staff. Mentors also play a critical role in supporting each other and offering reassurance and information. Each mentee is carefully screened to ensure that his or her placement with a Starfish mentor is appropriate.
Myth: Mentoring is a lifelong commitment.
Fact: In our program, mentoring requires only a six-month time commitment. We know many mentors are unable to make a commitment that spans several years. That’s why we ask for only six months of your time. After this period, the mentor and mentee may choose to dissolve or extend their mentoring relationship. The Starfish Program Director will assist the mentor in this process, whether electing to end or continue the relationship.
Myth: Mentoring programs are for youth who aren’t successful.
Fact: The Starfish Mentoring Program is for youth from all backgrounds. We can all benefit from mentoring at some point in our life. Some of the greatest athletes, actors, and leaders of our nation have relied on mentoring to reach their life goals. Mentoring is a tool that helps us develop skills, and developing skills is something that everyone needs at one time or another. Additionally, mentoring are great ways to build upon the talents and abilities a young person already possesses.
If you aren’t able to donate your time, consider making a financial contribution to our program. Tax-deductible donations to the Starfish Mentoring Program can be made by: 1) writing a check to Headwaters with “Starfish Mentoring” in the memo line and mailing it to our office or 2) donating online at http://www.headwatersfdn.org/how-to-donate/ and designating the donation to “Starfish.”
Contact our Program Director for More Information!
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or referring a young person to the Starfish Mentoring Program, reach out! Our Program Director, Brittany Dwyer, would be happy to tell you all about Starfish and answer your questions.
Brittany can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 540-522-2039.