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Why Mentoring Matters for Children

Whether it’s in business relationships, personal relationships or school relationships, mentoring plays a valuable role in our community. Becoming a mentor gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge, experience and principles with someone else. This type of relationship often encourages and enables them to grow into someone even more exceptional. If you’ve ever been mentored yourself, you know how beneficial a mentor can be.

So of course, when looking at how adults can serve the children in our community, mentoring comes high on the list. While mentoring a child can be similar to mentoring an adult, it brings with it a whole new level of commitment and benefits. Mentoring a child helps them to see unlimited possibilities for the future, learn something new and most importantly, realize that somebody cares about them. Here’s why mentoring matters for children—and why you should consider getting involved.

1. Mentoring helps learn new things.
When you mentor a child, you can teach them any number of new things, helping to expand their mind and absorb new information. For instance, if you work as a construction worker, you can teach your mentee about construction; or, if you enjoy volunteering at a dance studio, you can show your mentee some of your favorite moves. However, even more than practical skills and knowledge, having a mentor exposes children to new ideas, new thought processes and new ways of life, that they might not have received otherwise from their immediate circle of adults. When children learn new things, they can continue to grow into well-rounded and stable adults themselves.

2. Mentoring gives new experiences.
Just as mentoring helps children learn new things, it also gives new and exciting experiences. This experience could be as simple as going to get ice cream at a local shop, or could be as complicated as making a trip to a different city for an adventure. One study conducted by North Carolina State University shows that youth from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to attend college when they have a mentor. This can be in part from the experiences they gain through the mentoring process. When children are exposed to a variety of controlled circumstances during their development, they learn confidence, feel connected and will be more likely to search for new experiences as they become adults.

3. Mentoring provides valuable adult relationships.
Oftentimes, the children who need a mentor the most are those who otherwise might not have very stable adult relationships in their lives. These are the children who come from difficult situations, dramatic family backgrounds and struggle in school. Through mentoring, they’re able to experience a stable, valuable adult relationship, perhaps for the first time in their life. Appropriate adult relationships are an incredibly important component in any child’s development. They provide someone the child can look up to, trust and learn from. According to a five year study conducted by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, children with mentors were found to be more confident and have fewer behavioral problems than their peers without mentors. Adult relationships matter, and you can provide that for a child.

4. Mentoring shows someone cares.
Finally—and possibly most importantly—mentoring shows that someone cares. Children know their parents are supposed to love them. They understand that even their teachers should care for them in some way. But when they have a separate adult come in and love them appropriately, without any visible “benefit” or “recognition,” they truly feel special. By establishing a mentor relationship with a child, you can change a life through the power of caring. When children know someone out there cares for them, they’re less likely to get in trouble, more likely to focus on getting good grades and more likely to be involved with the community themselves. All of these benefits come from the relational support an adult mentor can provide.

If you want to live an altruistic life and make a valuable impact on your community that will literally last a lifetime, consider mentoring a child. You have the opportunity to make a genuine difference in their life, and you might just be surprised at the benefits you gain, as well.

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6 Ways to Show Your Support This Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2018 is here, officially marking the end of another school year and the beginning of summer. However, Memorial Day is so much more than just a holiday to enjoy a break from work. Memorial Day is an opportunity to honor our valuable service men and women and thank them for their incredible contributions to our nation.

Since World War I alone, more than 645,000 men and women have given their lives in defense of the United States. Memorial Day honors these fallen heroes, as well as the hundreds of thousands of active service members. Originally deemed Decoration Day, Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, and its observance was recognized on the last Monday in May. How can you continue to honor and respect the service men and women dedicated to protecting this nation? Here are six ways to show your support this Memorial Day.

1. Wear or display a red poppy.
As Memorial Day is recognized, you might notice veterans or military family members selling and wearing paper red poppies. The red poppy tradition originally grew from the World War I poem, “In Flanders Field,” by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. The poem referred to red poppies which grew over the graves of fallen soldiers. You can continue to show your support for our military by wearing or displaying a paper red poppy on this day.

2. Fly the flag.
If you’re able, flying the United States flag outside your home or workplace is an excellent way to show support on Memorial Day. Proper flag etiquette dictates the flag should be raised at half-staff from sunrise until noon, in rememberance of those who passed in battle. After noon, the flag can be raised to full-staff for the rest of the day, in recognition of our living veterans and active-duty service personnel.

3. Thank an active or veteran.
If you know an active-duty service member or veteran, Memorial Day is a special occasion to show your appreciation for their commitment to our nation. Take time to give them a call, send them a note or even a small gift. If you don’t know a military person personally, see what organizations are in your community that service them and see how you can get involved.

4. Visit a national memorial.
Many cemeteries and memorials across the United States are home to the graves of fallen soldiers. Oftentimes, they will even host special ceremonies on Memorial Day to honor the lost. Show your support this Memorial Day by visiting the graves of our nation’s fallen heroes, and honoring them through flowers, notes or flags. If you’re unsure where to start, check online for a list of national cemeteries by state.

5. Volunteer your time.
One of the best ways to show your support for our country’s military members and their families is simply through volunteering your time to help make a difference. See what organizations or research agencies are in your area that you can get involved with, such as a local VA hospital, USO center or homeless shelter. Volunteer your time to giving back and see the positive effect you can make in the life of a military member.

6. Make a financial contribution.
Ultimately, your financial contribution can also make an incredible impact for a military person and his or her family. Whether it’s giving to an organization, sending a care package overseas or supporting a family in need, you can have a genuine and positive influence this Memorial Day.

This Memorial Day, show your support for the heroes who have protected and do protect our country. Try out these six ideas today and throughout the week to make a valuable difference in a military service member’s life.

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How to Use Your Talents to Help Others

If you’re a human being, then you have something positive you can contribute to the world. Chances are you have a talent worth sharing. As Arianna Huffington says, “Giving can be as simple as giving joy to others—sharing our talents and skills to help them tap into their own ability to experience wonder.” Whether it’s an uncanny ability to teach, shooting the perfect three-pointer shot in basketball or even a sincere knack at organizing your planner, your gifts and talents are the perfect way to help support those around you.

While it might seem simple to say talents can help others, actually identifying your talents and putting them to good use can be a little bit more difficult. So, what does using your talents really look like in action? Let’s explore how you can use your talents to help others in your community.

1. Consider what you’re good at.
The first step in using your talents is truthfully considering what they are. This might seem simple enough, but can sometimes feel awkward to “brag” about yourself. Nevertheless, take some time to genuinely consider your strengths.

Maybe you think about your qualities and characteristics, such as positivity, or actual skills, like graphic design, or even experiences you’ve had in the past, such as working with children. Consider what your talents are in a variety of areas, and then start to think about how you can use those talents in your community.

2. Think about what you enjoy.
Along with your talents comes things you genuinely enjoy. You might be very talented at something, but maybe don’t enjoy it very much. For instance, perhaps you’re a great teacher, but don’t love working with children. Or, you might really enjoy something, but might not be very talented at it. While this can be challenging at first, having a genuine passion for something can also help grow your skills in that area. Think about things you enjoy doing, causes you feel passionate about or types of people you like working with.

3. Ask those close to you.
If you struggle talking about yourself or thinking about your talents, ask those closest to you to give you some of their ideas. Family and close friends might even know you better than you do, and can help provide some insight into your talents. Ask them for their ideas, do a brainstorming activity or share your ideas with them and get any feedback they have. Who knows? Maybe you have a hidden talent you didn’t even realize.

4. Learn about needs in your community.
As you explore your own talents, learn about the needs within your community. You might be extremely talented in one area, but maybe organizations near you don’t have a need for that talent. Explore causes you care about and see what needs they have for volunteers or staff members to truly understand where your talents can support others.

5. Find a fit.
Finally, find a fit. Once you’ve identified your own talents and learned about the needs within the community, find a fit between you and an organization or cause you care about. See how you can get involved and how your talents can help others at the organization. If it’s a great match, continue giving back and using your talents to better the community around you.

Volunteering and serving doesn’t have to be challenging when you use your talents to support others. Identify your talents, ask for support and find an organization where you can use your strengths to give back. You might be surprised at just how much your talents can help others.

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4 Ways to Give Back on Mother’s Day

She always picked you up when you fell down, held you close when you were sad and celebrated with you when you were joyful. As you grew up, she continued to be there whenever you needed her—good or bad. She’s your mother, and she means the absolute world to you.

Happy almost Mother’s Day! In case it slipped your mind, Mother’s Day is just around the corner on Sunday, May 13th. This special day is dedicated to all of the incredible mothers—and those who have embraced the role of mother—who love their children well and care for them every single day. Mother’s Day is all about thanking that special person in your life for taking care of you as you grew into who you are today.

But, what can you give your mother that truly shows her your appreciation? If you strive to live an altruistic lifestyle, there are plenty of gifts you can give your loved one on Mother’s Day that also give back to others in the community. Here are four ways to give back on Mother’s Day.

1. Buy flowers from a local florist.
Flowers are always the perfect Mother’s Day gift because they brighten her day and reflect the joy she brings to your own life. If you want to buy flowers for your mom this Mother’s Day, be sure to shop from a local florist or flower shop. Big chain stores might often be the easier alternative, but by shopping locally you can feel confident that your gift is going to help others in your community. Put food on the table for a family, show your support for small business and make conscious purchasing decisions by buying local flowers.

2. Shop fair trade jewelry.
If your mom loves jewelry, be sure to give her something extra sparkly this Mother’s Day! And don’t worry; you can still shop altruistically in the jewelry section. Check out local fair trade shops or search online for fair trade jewelry retailers. Fair trade products often employ men and women in developing countries or in poverty in the U.S., and ensure they are paid a living wage for their efforts. By buying fair trade, you can support another woman halfway around the world, who is able to send her children to school because of the opportunity making jewelry provided. Give your mom something shiny and charitable by surprising her with fair trade jewelry.

3. Give a newborn care package.
If there’s a new mom in your life who’s celebrating Mother’s Day herself for the very first time, show support for the new little baby by giving her a newborn care package. Make a package yourself with a variety of items the new mom and baby might need, or search online for organizations and businesses that already offer a care package. Some nonprofit organizations will also match your purchase by providing a mother in poverty with the resources she needs to care for her child. Do some research and design which works best for you to give to the new mother in your life.

4. Purchase from altruistic organizations.
Finally, no matter what you decide to give your mother or a mom in your life for Mother’s Day, live an altruistic lifestyle by supporting organizations that give back. Search for small businesses or nonprofits in your community, nationally or internationally that have a hand in helping others around them. When you purchase from altruistic organizations, you ensure that others around you can live more fulfilling and joyful lives. What better gift can you give the mother in your life than honoring her through providing to others?

Try out some of these gift ideas this week in order to surprise the mothers in your life with a gift that gives back.