Dani Kocur has served as our Volunteer Coordinator since 2010 and oversees all of our volunteer programs, including the Ignite mentoring program.
In volunteer management, they say there are two jobs that are never done – recruiting and recruiting. Ignite, our mentoring program, matches students with volunteers who commit one hour each week to developing meaningful relationships which foster trust, hope and success. When we had 31 mentors sign up to return to our program this fall, it looked like it would be a stagnant year in terms of mentoring. The task of matching 44 more kids with a brand new mentor was incredibly daunting. We’ve never really come close to matching everyone; honestly, I didn’t expect that to be any different this year.
How often does God have to come around, flick me in the back of the head, and say, “I’ve got this, remember?”
Back in August, the president of Beta Upsilon Chi (the Christian fraternity at TCU who have chosen us as their philanthropy for three years in a row) met with me. “I’ve got this idea that I’m really excited about,” he said. “What if at one of our meetings, you came to talk to us about mentoring, and just didn’t leave until every boy had a mentor?” So three weeks later, I stood in front of 75 young men, showed them the pictures of all of our boys who needed a mentor, and left with more people committed to mentoring than I had boys to match them with. God showed up that night, and it was an incredible thing to witness.
There was still a problem, though. We started the year with a huge disparity in boy/girl enrollment – 2/3 of our enrollment is made up of girls! That left us at a huge disadvantage for mentoring – even though we had nearly the same number of male/female mentors, we had all of our boys matched and 25 girls without a mentor. So on a whim, we posted a photo collage of all 25 girls without a mentor and an emotional plea for more women to apply.
“As of today, each of these 25 beautiful girls is without a mentor. They don't have someone who comes in and asks them about their week at school. They don't have someone who gets them out of their class for an hour of fun and conversation. They don't have someone who sees them one-on-one and knows their strengths and worries and secrets.
Our girls know they're missing this. That's why they ask us every day, "when do I get my mentor"?
Can you be a mentor, confidante, friend and cheerleader for one of these girls? It's easy. You just need one free hour a week and a love for a child made in God's image.”
That photo was shared 48 times and reached over 3,000 people. Since then, we have received dozens of applications and have so far matched 16 of those 25 girls with a mentor. God showed up again that day, and He moved in the hearts of women across the city.
I am so excited to report that as of right now we have SIXTY-FOUR mentors (over twice as many as we started with six weeks ago), with 15 applications currently pending/awaiting interview. For those of you doing the math, that means we are about to have more people wanting to be mentors than we have kids to match them with! For the first time in six years of having this mentoring program, all of our kids will have an adult investing one hour a week into their lives. I am thrilled (and maybe 2% scared) of what this means for Fortress. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned again and again, it’s that God shows up -- in our weakness, in our joy, in our fear. And his promises stay true -- “[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6