As National Mentoring Month comes to a close, MEF would like to thank our amazing volunteers mentors for their hard work with the students at Midtown and Metro. In the 2015-16 school year, Midtown and Metro tutors provided nearly 17,000 hours of service to MEF kids, providing study tips, helping with homework and goal setting, and above all, being a friend to more than 600 at-risk Chicago kids. Last week, we profiled Midtown volunteers Camden Robertson and Steve Hardy, and this week we are showcasing the amazing work of two Metro tutors and the long-term bond they have built with their students.

First, we start with Beth Zachara and her work with student Daisy and her family. Beth started tutoring at Metro eight years ago and has been hooked ever since. "After I started tutoring on Wednesdays, that quickly became my favorite day of the week," Beth states. She began working with Daisy's older sister, Rebecca, when she was in the 4th grade. Once Rebecca graduated the Walgreens One-on-One Program, Beth had a discussion with Rebecca’s mother and decided to begin working with her younger sister, Daisy, who was entering the fifth grade.

In her time with Rebecca and Daisy, Beth has provided support in many ways: helping with homework, studying for spelling bees, and having discussions about how to respond when a friend isn't being a friend. Of her time with Daisy this year, Beth speaks of the many memories they have built together, including laughing every week (thanks in part to Daisy's dry sense of humor) and vigorous discussions of science and robotics. Over the years, Beth has further developed a relationship with the family outside of Metro as well, attending birthday parties, school talent shows and dinners at their home. 

Echoing a sentiment of many Midtown and Metro volunteers, Zachara states, "Sharing my Wednesday nights with girls like Rebecca and Daisy has been one of the most fulfilling decisions of my life." Beth's service to MEF does not stop with tutoring. She also serves on MEF's Auxiliary Board as treasurer on the executive committee. Beth also offers her financial and nonprofit expertise at every opportunity. A lifelong Chicagoan, Beth is also passionate about Chicago sports, including her beloved Cubs.

Another incredible Metro volunteer mentor is Nicole Bersani. When Nicole first started tutoring, she was admittedly nervous about how it would go. However, after training activities with the Metro staff, and a few weeks with her mentee, Vicky, Nicole knew she had made the right choice in coming to Metro. In Vicky, Nicole recognized many of the same traits that she herself had at that age, and the two quickly overcame their shyness and bonded through homework sessions and talking about sports. 

Nicole and Vicky have been paired together for the last three years, and in that time, Nicole has seen Vicky improve in reading, and transform from a very shy girl to being very talkative. Of their relationship, Nicole says, "It's amazing how time flies and how much we've grown together. I know this sounds cheesy, but I think I've learned more from Vicky than she has learned from me." This is not uncommon to hear from MEF tutors.

Bersani also serves on MEF's Auxiliary Board as a member and on the executive committee as the Communications chair. By day, Bersani is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for the Chicago Cubs. She landed this dream job before last season, and was onboard for their epic 2016 World Series run.

Once again MEF would like to thank Beth, Nicole, and all mentors at Midtown and Metro for their diligent work with the students we serve. It truly is some of the most important work that happens at Midtown and Metro, and volunteer mentors truly keep Chicago kids on pathways to success. 

To learn more about mentoring at Midtown or Metro, click here.