By: Julie Asher, Deputy Director
Connections matter. These are the words we’ve chosen for our summer campaign to recruit new mentors and supporters, but they are so much more than a hashtag. They are at the heart of Silver Lining Mentoring.
The concept of connections matter, makes intuitive sense. We can all think of a time when someone helped us get a job, get through a tough time, or learn a skill. Most of the people I think of, I’ve gotten to know as a co-worker, classmate or neighbor, or have been introduced to me by someone I trust. Young people in foster care don’t often have those same kinds of opportunities to build trust. They’ve been removed from their home community and frequently face multiple moves while they are in care.
But it is more than just intuitive sense that leads us to believe connections matter, the science backs it up. One of the most important building blocks of resilience for a young person is a connection to a supportive, caring adult. “Science shows that children who do well despite serious hardship have had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.” (Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) Serious hardship, or intolerable stress, can result in an overactivated stress response – a person in constant fight or flight mode. A consistent and caring adult can help a young person through the stressful events and be there to celebrate successes, big and small. They can remind a young person of their strength, help them plan for the future, and just talk things out when they face an obstacle. We believe that SLM mentors provide opportunities for young people to build their self-efficacy, positive identity, social-emotional skills and their engagement in other social connections.
I recently celebrated one year with Silver Lining Mentoring. In that time I have had the privilege to see the power of connection for the young people and their mentors in the Silver Lining community. I have witnessed the care with which the SLM program staff matches young people with their mentors and the thoughtfulness in their responses to mentors’ questions. I have heard countless stories of mentors who were there to answer a text or phone call when their mentee needed someone to talk to, or was just bored. And I have seen the camaraderie and pride when a young person takes on a leadership opportunity with SLM. Each of these moments is evidence that connections matter.
If you are already part of our community, we invite you to share the message that connections matter. If you are just hearing about Silver Lining Mentoring, we invite you to learn more!