Jill joined KEYS as a volunteer mentor with New Horizons after learning about the program through a mutual friend. A core French teacher who is heavily involved in her community, Jill was no stranger to helping others learn and grow.
“The requirements of the program were flexible, and the more I learned about New Horizons and its impact, the more I thought; how can I not do this?”
When joining KEYS as a mentor for New Horizons, mentors participate in training designed to help them learn how to be an effective mentor. Topics include conflict resolution, effective mentoring techniques, trauma-informed approaches, and other relevant strategies. A mentor completes their training, but they are not alone. Throughout the mentorship, KEYS staff supports them in many ways, helping ensure the partnership is healthy and effective.
“I have much appreciation for the care that the KEYS staff puts into making these mentorships. The care and consideration and support for the mentor and mentee in the process, I think that what made it so successful was how well Cameron and Mike know their group, they knew we would be a great fit.”
After completing the online mentoring training program, alongside the youth who would become her mentee, the pair were connected and got to work.
Despite challenges to scheduling their sessions, Jill and her mentee maintained their flexibility and were finally able to meet.
Their first session was a coffee and a chat at the Tett Centre.
“For our first session, we just got together and talked. We connected pretty easily, and it was a lovely experience. Even though we had challenges in finding a time that worked due to our busy schedules, we persisted, and it was so worth it.”
Jill and her mentee met semi-regularly over the next six months, built a relationship that transitioned into friendship.
“After the program was finished, we decided to not continue with formal mentorship through KEYS but are continuing to meet – keeping each other in the loop – it’s been nice to have the opportunity to continue our relationship and friendship.”
While mentorships are focused on helping newcomer youth acclimate to life in Canada, mentors often share that they have also grown through the experience. The impact you can have on a young person through mentorship can be surprising.
“There was a volunteer appreciation event at KEYS and my mentee spoke at the event about her experience with New Horizons. For me it was surprising to hear how helpful it had been to have this regular contact, to have someone in your corner, how beneficial it was for her despite other things in her life.
It seemed like such a small piece of my life to give, and it was surprising to hear about the impact of our connection.”
New Horizons is a youth-led group run by KEYS that serves refugee and newcomer youth in Kingston, aged 16 to 30, by providing them with opportunities to meet each other, make new friends, share useful information, and have fun!