Humans need the ice bucket challenge and other thoughts about mentoring

ice-bucketWhen I started this program in 1995, I planned to get it going, staffed and launched, and then continue my engineering work at Hewlett-Packard. Twenty years later, here I am with more passion for the program and its benefits than ever before. Why? It’s because of the mentors who have participated for years to make a difference in the life of each youth they serve. These mentors are incredible human beings. I know many who have mentored nonstop since 1995. I have birth announcements for their children. I have graduation announcements for the same children.

Who volunteers for the same organization for 20 years in a row? It’s humbling, inspiring and I thank God I know these professionals. They are like brothers and sisters. Hold that thought.

Now, I’ve also recognized that the level of stress most corporate professionals are facing has gone up dramatically. An unpredictable economy and fragile job security produces so much stress at the individual level, and yet the human spirit continues to thrive. We see it all the time, most recently with the ice bucket challenge for ALS or Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir. Human beings love to make a difference. They love to collaborate in a way that produces results that no single human being can make on their own. That spirit and drive gives me great hope.

Another aspect of our program that inspires me are the personal success stories. Just last night I caught up with a student who participated in ITP and graduated from high school over a decade ago. She told me that most of the incredible opportunities that have come her way were the result of the professional network she created in our program. When she was a senior in high school, I encouraged her to keep that network together and give us an opportunity to invest in her long term. I also encouraged her to publicly thank any professional who helped her and look for ways to invest in the network. Now she’s ready to be a mentor and help other students. Her passion is directing films. She still communicates regularly with her mentor from Lucas Films.

If you’d like to make a difference in our world by mentoring a youth, let me know. I’d love to talk with you.

David Neils, 970-481-9795, davidn@telementor.org

by David Neils, International Telementor Program founder and president

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