Mentoring once a week can change the life of a middle schooler

“If someone wants to give back in a really targeted and impactful way, Be a Middle School Mentor is one of the best ways to do that.”

After attending United Way’s Hoodies for the Holidays distribution event, where volunteers deliver college hoodies to students in United Way’s Be a Middle School Mentor program, Hayley Haldeman was inspired to become a mentor.

“The kids at Hoodies for the Holidays were having so much fun and showing everyone their college sweatshirts,” Hayley remembered. “I wanted to be part of this excitement.”

While Hayley has been mentoring for four years now, this is her second year with her current mentee, Lanajah. By meeting once a week, they’ve developed a true bond. Lanajah loves to discuss her schoolwork with Hayley, and they often discuss school projects together. Hayley has seen a change in Lanajah, namely with her grades and her excitement around her classes.

“Her grades really improved this year, which was awesome to see,” Hayley explained. “One day, she was so excited when I got there. The second I walked in, she ran down to get her report card, and she was beaming with pride. That was such a great moment.”

Lanajah has also built confidence and learned to trust Hayley through their visits. The program provides a safe space for Lanajah to open up and discuss what’s going on in her life. “It’s great for middle schoolers to have another caring adult in their life they can talk to – not a parent, guardian, teacher – someone who is outside of this space.”

Hayley sees the value for mentors, as well. “It is enjoyable to go to mentoring and hear what’s going on in Lanajah’s life. I had forgotten what it was like to be a 7th grader. It’s something I look forward to and learn from every week,” she said.

Hayley encourages others to become a mentor. “When you consider the value you can provide by mentoring at such a minimal time commitment, it’s truly a win/win – for both you and your mentee,” Hayley said.

To sign up as mentor, visit uwswpa.org/be-a-volunteer/.

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