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Mentors/Mentees Share Their Experiences

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Mentee Sydney Watson — Sydney Watson, Communication and Development Coordinator at Community Food Club, discussed her experience as a mentee. “I could text Salina for help about anything,” she noted about mentor Salina Bishop, Director of Development at Grand Rapids Symphony. They discussed her fundraising questions and worked through how to work in a small nonprofit organization. Since this was Sydney’s first development position, they talked a great deal about next steps. “Salina helped me look forward and think about how I can build up my position to have a greater impact,” said Sydney.

Mentee Clair Timmer — “I plan to continue meeting with Melissa,” said Claire Timmer, Stewardship and Hospitality Coordinator for Kids’ Food Basket. As a mentor, Melissa Block, Associate Director of the Children’s Healing Center, helped Claire get into the details of stewarding donors and planning for events. But it was much more. “She helped me identify my long-term career goals as a fundraising professional,” said Claire. “I am lucky to have Ashley Diersch as my professional mentor at Kids’ Food basket, but it is amazing to have outside input from a seasoned professional like Melissa.”

Mentor Jim Steenbergen — First-time mentor Jim Steenbergen, Executive Director of Sunset Legacy Foundation, reflected on his time in the program. “Being a mentor helps you keep your sword sharp. If you are teaching something, it forces you to live it better each day,” said Jim. A life-long learner, he noted that “Mentoring offers the opportunity to step outside of the echo chambers that we fall into. I also thought I had some knowledge to perhaps pass on after working in the field for over 20 years.” Jim was pleasantly surprised by how much he learned from mentoring Abigail McIntyre, Director of Community Engagement at Protect Life Michigan. “Abigail was well-versed on the technological aspects of conversing with donors in the digital space – something that I’m not really equipped to do,” he noted. “She provided a lot of ideas to me.” He is already looking forward to being a part of the mentoring program again next fall.