Some Assembly Required: The Mentor Program

This past October I met my Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. mentor, Alicia Morris, for the first time. It was pretty clear from the moment we met that she was the perfect mentor for me. I am a transfer member and I have only been in Charlotte for less than a year. I applied to the mentor program because I believed it would be an opportunity for me to learn about JLC. My previous two leagues were small leagues that were easy to navigate and engage. They both had clear paths for members who wanted to serve on the board, which has always been one of my goals. Alicia is a native of Charlotte, the daughter of a JLC Sustainer, and has been active in JLC for…. well let’s just say she could be a Sustainer if she wanted to be one. She clearly would have the knowledge to help me learn everything I could about the JLC.

Then we met for the first time and discovered this relationship was going to be about so much more than JLC 101. Alicia and I have a long history of giving back to our communities, we both work professionally in non-profit development and organize events for our local alumni associations. Alicia and I are most definitely both doers. So, instead of sitting down with me to tell me about JLC projects, Alicia has invited me to events at our partner organizations and former projects. We have both been proactive, me by asking questions (ALL the time) and Alicia by sharing information she receives which she knows will be of interest to me. We do not have formal meetings for me to be “mentored,” but find mentor moments have happened naturally as we have put effort into our relationship. Through our regular meetings, e-mails, and text — we have taken pair of people perfectly matched and assembled a relationship that sweetens our lives professionally and personally.

I was terribly excited to learn that Alicia and I were in the group that would provide a dessert that required assembly for our mid-year mentor session. I knew I had the perfect dessert in need of assembly — S’mores! S’mores require perfectly paired ingredients, a little work, and assembly — you wouldn’t want a s’more with cheese instead of chocolate or water cracker instead of graham cracker — and they just are not the same with cold marshmallows. A mentor relationship requires same things as S’mores — perfect ingredients (people), a little work, and assembly. A mentor relationship cannot work between two people who do not click nor can it work between two people who do click, but do not work to connect.

Luckily, S’mores have been an obsession of mine since I was a child. My obsession has grown this past year with the introduction of Pinterest — I have a whole board dedicated to S’mores. S’mores was even the theme of my Christmas tree this year. So, I knew there were plenty of ways to bring this perfect campfire treat inside. Our group decided to do indoors S’more using ceramic pots lined with tinfoil and filled with charcoal. It was an idea that had always been a hit with friends and I knew it would be here as well. Twenty-five women at the mid-year mentor gathering had blast roasting marshmallow with at in the community room of the JLC building as we celebrated the relationships that had been assembled through the JLC mentor program.

If you would like to try indoor S’mores you can find full instructions in a blog post at Apres Fete. If you would like to learn more about the JLC mentor program you can e-mail jlcrelations@gmail.com.

– Eleanor