I mentor for iMentor!

Each year in March, iMentor volunteers rally together to raise crucial funds that allow our program to continue operating. We use CrowdRise, a crowdfunding platform to host our campaigns. This past iMentor Challenge campaign recently concluded, and together the mentors, employees, and friends of our program raised a whopping $242,362! The below post was originally published on CrowdRise by one of our amazing volunteer mentors from Goldman Sachs who passionately raised funds in honor of her mentee. We are sharing it now with her permission.

So, a couple weeks back, a work colleague asked me if I "knew of" this organization called iMentor, and I was like... "Dude...I MENTOR for iMentor! Paola and I are iMentor famous!" Editor's Note: Paola and Chanel were once the face of volunteer recruitment in NYC!

Way back in 2012 when my iPhone was tiny but my heart was big, I was eager to join an organization that would connect me with young people and allow me to make an impact - but I was also working many, many, MANY hours in a relatively new position. Enter iMentor. After some internet sleuthing I came across iMentor: "One email a week, one meeting a month". Sounds doable...sign me up! (Actually...send me to orientation, phone interview me, check several references, fingerprint and background check me...THEN sign me up)

My mentee Paola was a junior in high school when we met. She was wise way beyond her years with compassion, empathy and depth that would put any "one-email a week" do-gooder to shame. She had started a volunteer effort to visit children diagnosed with cancer, she wrote poetry and she cared for her family - especially her younger sister who she loved fiercely. All this while maintaining an excellent GPA and participating in numerous school activities. The only thing Paola wasn't doing was planning for college. She was casually considering joining a 2-year community college and possibly transferring to a 4-year school later. SAY WHAT????

At that moment my mission was obvious, I was #TeamPaola #NotGoingIsNotAnOption. To be clear, this is not the approach we as mentors are instructed to take with each student. We are encouraged to meet our mentees where they are, be present and most importantly be consistent. In Paola's case, however, it became obvious that she had aspirations and potential to change the world; she really just needed someone to show her how. We spent two years learning about each other, discussing life experiences, demystifying scholarships/student loans/grants and working on her personal statement. Paola visited the Cornell campus and fell in love with the University - with some trepidation she applied - with no hesitation she was afforded a full-ride.

Paola is now a Junior, pre-med, campus leader, published blogger and student activist. She's easily one of the most awe-inspiring women I've ever met - and I owe that to iMentor. I am now in the process of entering my second mentoring-match in September. So, as I re-embark on my mentorship journey I hope that you will join me by supporting a truly amazing organization.

Editor's Note: If you've been inspired by Chanel's story, we'd love for you to join her and become a volunteer mentor. Your next step: Fill out the online application for your city. We hope to see you at Mentor Orientation soon!