January is National Mentoring Month, and the volunteer mentors at Midtown and Metro provide some of the most important work that happens at each center. These volunteers work one-on-one with students, not only tutoring, but building study skills that students can use the rest of their lives. All the while, mentors also help students set and monitor personal and academic goals throughout their tenure in the program, developing a strong bond and helping students reach their full potential.
As we close out National Mentoring Month, MEF would like to recognize a few of these incredible individuals for their many contributions to its programs. Between the Midtown and Metro Centers, MEF is fortunate to have nearly 400 volunteers who spend more than 17,000 hours mentoring MEF students, placing them on pathways to success.
Starting at Midtown, mentor Camden Robertson has worked with his mentee, Miguel, for the past three years. Cam found Midtown through his former professor (and current MEF staffer) Bob Kornecki while a student at DePaul. During their time together, Cam and Miguel have forged a strong bond.
“As a third grader, he was a shy and nervous young boy. Now in the sixth grade, I’ve watched Miguel grow up to become a smart and mature kid,” Robertson says.
Outside of tutoring, Cam and Miguel also spend time talking about Miguel’s budding soccer career and playing strategy games on Miguel’s laptop (which Cam swears is actually homework). Over the years Cam has grown closer with Miguel’s family, including his younger brother Jacinto, who started at Midtown last year.
Robertson works by day as a manager at Golin, a PR & Communications Firm, and is an avid Cubs’ fan. He also serves as an integral member of MEF’s Auxiliary Board, helping with events at every opportunity and earning a reputation as a MEF’s “Most Valuable Raffle Ticket Salesman.”
Another incredible tutor pair at Midtown is volunteer Steve Hardy and his mentee, Antonio. Steve has worked with Antonio for the past two years, and in that time, their relationship has flourished. Despite being a shy and cautious student when first arriving at Midtown, Antonio has blossomed while working with Steve, and now participates in every activity and has made many new friends at Midtown.
“Steve has given Antonio the confidence to be himself, which in turn has propelled Antonio to be a better person. Antonio now looks forward to every session at Midtown, because he gets to spend it with Steve,” One-on-One Program Director Oscar Calderon states of this special relationship.
Antonio’s family has expressed gratitude for Steve’s work with Antonio, helping him transform from a very reserved kid into a student who is now thriving at Midtown. When not giving time to Midtown and Antonio, Steve works as a director for Robert W. Baird Financial Services in Chicago. Midtown also honored Steve with its Volunteer of the Year award at this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Party.
These are just two examples of the amazing work that the hundreds of mentors at Midtown are doing. MEF would like to thank Cam and Steve for their incredible contributions at Midtown, as well as all of the tutors who are so generous with their time and efforts to impact young Chicago lives.
Stay tuned for a profile on Metro tutors later this month!