(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)

For LEAP Foundation DC, our mission is all about bridging the gap between hope and achievement. We work with disadvantaged youth, providing educational and training opportunities to meet the aspirations of the underserved citizens of the District of Columbia. Like many youth-centered nonprofits, we offer scholarships, recognition and awards throughout the year that serve as testaments of character, hard work and achievements. But much of our success is thanks to the one-on-one mentoring that benefits our students in countless ways.

But did you know that mentorship is more than that? Mentoring doesn’t just provide lifelong benefits to youth, it can lead you – the mentor – down a more successful path, too. January is #NationalMentoringMonth. Make 2020 the year you check volunteering off your bucket list and reach out to a youth-related organization to see how you can get involved in mentoring a young person. You won’t regret it – here are a few reasons why:

 

For the mentee:

More likely to graduate high school and attend college

Improved self-esteem

Better relationships with parents and teachers

Better attitude toward peers

Less likely to engage in negative behaviors, like drugs and alcohol

More likely to become a positive role model for others

Improved social skills

Better equipped to face challenges

Offers consistency for those who may not have someone on his or her side

Prepares the mentee for professional situations, like college interviews and job opportunities

 

For you:

Increase in self-esteem

An opportunity to share your skills and expertise, (while also learning a thing or two!)

Experience a sense of accomplishment

Brush up on leadership skills

An expanded professional network

Volunteering is believed to offer health benefits, such as a decrease in blood pressure

It looks great on a CV

Earn respect from employers and colleagues

An opportunity to positively affect the future

An improved ability to actively listen