JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After their heavy involvement in the revival of the Missouri Mentorship Initiative (MMI), First Lady Teresa Parson and Second Lady Claudia Kehoe are on a mission to bring awareness to the value of mentorship.
The inspiration behind reestablishing the Missouri Mentorship Initiative began through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization who asked if Missouri would like to be a part of a state mentorship program. Realizing an opportunity for Missouri students to receive additional guidance and education, Parson and Kehoe took it upon themselves to revitalize MMI.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters, who has been giving kids the opportunity to reach their potential through the mentoring process for 114 years, reached out to us in January, which is National Mentoring Month, expressing an interest in having up to 300 Missouri state employees in targeted locations serve as mentors for one hour per week during the work week,” explained Parson.
“Young men and women need guidance, direction, and motivation from adults, just as they need the wisdom of adult experiences,” Kehoe continued. “Mentors provide guidance and encouragement to harness skills, abilities, and interests toward education and career opportunities that may not otherwise have been contemplated.”
By involving themselves into the program, Parson and Kehoe want to encourage Missouri youth as well as promote educational opportunities for potential students and mentors throughout the state.
“I have always had a special place in my heart for children, and I know that the lives of the mentors and the children being mentored will be enriched because of their involvement,” said Parson. “As First Lady, I feel that my advocacy of this program will encourage our state employees to participate.”
Parson and Kehoe believe bringing back MMI will benefit both young Missourians and state employees as they give their time as mentors with the mentors witnessing the fruits of their labor as the students grow through the program.
“Our Missouri state employees have the opportunity one hour a week to enable young Missourians to chart journeys for their lives that may otherwise have never been explored,” Parson said. “Many of these kids become adults who share what they’ve learned with the next generation of young people needing mentoring.”
Kehoe added that the effort put into to teaching will allow mentors to grow alongside their pupils as they succeed.
“No discussion of mentoring benefits can be complete without recognition of the positive results for adults as well,” Kehoe added. “Just as a parent gets joy from the success of their children, so too do mentors receive joy when they see the young people with whom they work mature into adults and productive citizens.”
The First and Second Lady continued with words of affirmation towards the MMI’s return. Parson and Kehoe seeing it as a case for how good mentors and a proper educational foundation can build a future for Missouri students.
“I am pleased to participate in this valuable program because I understand the significant, life-changing role a mentor can have in the life of a child,” Kehoe said.
“The Missouri Mentor Initiative is a working example of the saying ‘we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give,’” Parson concluded.