by Kelly Hodgkins

Hello blog readers! My name is Kelly Hodgkins and I am currently serving as the VMP VISTA for Virginia Commonwealth University. I serve with the Division of Community Engagement and work to enhance their mentoring efforts towards the youth of Richmond. This position comes with a variety of responsibilities and these first few months have been a whirlwind of understanding what my role as a “mentor program coordinator” truly means. The VISTA’s for VMP have their own unique position within their site and mine is no different. I work not only to enhance VCU’s own AmeriCorps program with their mentoring but I also assist in the Carver Promise mentoring program. Both of these are school-based in which our mentors work directly within the school community to mentor elementary students not only with Carver Promise’s Carver Elementary but in nine other schools across Richmond. I was trying to do the math the other day and I believe that with the 360-some mentors our combined programs recruits, they serve over 1100 young people in the city of Richmond! That’s awesome!

Although I am still in the first half of my service year, I have had many successes and challenges. One of my major successes comes from meeting and getting to know the mentors. Even though there are so many, I have definitely created bonds with a large handful and help them through any ruts they may be experiencing in their relationships. My favorite part of the job deals with something that we advise all our mentors to do as well: celebrate the successes! I love hearing about how our mentors are working with their students and building quality relationships and cheering them on along the way. But although there are many fantastic parts of the position, the most challenging comes from how to cater to so many mentors. It has been such a trial-and-error process but this beginning portion of the year is learning how to get past the number and continue to provide the best match support possible. It has been a challenge but I am looking forward to seeing how I can best mold my efforts to support our mentors as the year progresses.

So far, it’s been a whirlwind! I have learned so much and I can’t wait to continue to help build our program. I am excited to write my next post and reflect on how much I have grown since this blog entry, but for now I am learning, growing, and continuing to best serve the VCU and Richmond community.