VISTAs Revive Cleveland Mentoring Program

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July marks an important month for US Together: the end of the first VISTA cohort and beginning of the second. This year, the Cleveland office hosted two AmeriCorps VISTAs who focused on capacity-building for the agency. One of the ways they achieved this was through the revival of the mentoring program for youth and adult refugees. 

Mentorship is a critical part of our services because it provides learning opportunities for both clients and volunteers. As mentors engage with clients, they are exposed to new perspectives and clients develop skills for navigating the American educational, financial, and social systems. In other words, this program fosters a symbiotic relationship between the client and mentor. Todd, a volunteer mentor, epitomizes this relationship; he has built a trusting friendship with his two mentees through music.

Music can be used to promote the acceptance of cultural diversity, as well as to encourage individuals to explore and connect through another country’s culture. Todd Cushing, a recent grad from Baldwin Wallace who has been playing guitar since he was young, is discovering this as a new volunteer. When two refugee students reached out to us about their interest in learning guitar, we knew they were a perfect match. Along with mentorship activities such as exploring Cleveland and being a role model, Todd taught these teens how to play an instrument, providing them with an outlet to express themselves and share their culture with their mentor and others. Opportunities like this provide a learning experience for both parties- Todd is practicing Arabic music and language, and his mentees are learning about American culture through music lessons.

If this experience sounds like something you would be interested in, we are always looking for new mentors for youth, adults, or families. Apply today using the link below, or email Hope Fierro, our AmeriCorps VISTA member, at!