It's Volunteers' Week, a time to celebrate all the amazing work that volunteers do! Jasmin Contos, currently completing a PhD Philosophy, began volunteering with the YMCA and their Plusone Mentoring programme this year. Plusone Mentoring targets young people aged 8 – 14 who ‘have been identified as being "at-risk" in hopes of engaging them with their community and lowering their risk of offense.’ Jasmin explains that as a mentor, she has ‘committed a minimum of two hours a week spent with my mentee for the duration of the program, which is one year.’
Jasmin had wanted to participate in a mentoring programme for a number of years. At the start of the year she felt she was ‘in the position to commit to the amount of time mentoring takes.’ Jasmin mentors an eleven year-old-boy and says that ‘we both benefit from my volunteering. However, the benefit has extended to many of the people with whom my mentee has relationships as well.’
The role is fulfilling and she finds that Plusone’s Manager is inspiring to work with, ‘due to his ongoing excitement about and dedication to the organisation's mission.’
Being a mentor has widened Jasmin’s perspective: ‘It's hard not to see things differently when you're hanging out with a kid regularly, which is good to have since we tend to get into a habit of viewing things from a single perspective.’ Volunteering is also an opportunity for Jasmin to take a break, especially important when working on a PhD. ‘It's easy to get wrapped up in school, work, and the like. When you're committed to spending at least a couple hours a week doing things with a young person, it’s a chance to bracket everything else and just focus on having a good time.’
Jasmin advises students interested in volunteering to research and find ‘something that is well-suited both to your interests and your availability. It's less likely to help others if your volunteering doesn't stimulate your interests or causes you stress.’
When asked about a standout moment Jasmin, like many volunteers, says it’s hard to pick just one. ‘We have had some incredible times. One of the things I love about mentoring is how my mentee regularly surprises me and makes me laugh; he is unique and has an endless supply of antics.’
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