At the beginning of 2019, I wrote this blog about the potential of having new year’s resolutions that really matter. We called it #RealResolutions.

At Valcare, we work with community projects on a daily basis, but much of our work are behind the scenes or behind a computer. So, as a team we made a #RealResolution to personally volunteer our time to directly serve at one of our member nonprofit organisations during 2019.

After doing a lot of research and throwing ideas around, we realised that we had to practice what we preach. Like all the other activities at Valcare, we had to make sure that our volunteer initiative was sustainable, collaborative and that it achieves real impact.

Mentoring Youth with Potential

Valcare partnered with two of our member organisations: Paarl Youth Initiative (PYI) and Ezrah Community Training and Development to initiate a youth mentoring project that would advance leadership and career development skills.

Ezrah Community Development compiled a structure, formalised the content of an eight-week programme, and trained the Valcare team to ensure that we are fully prepared and equipped for the task. A code of conduct was also co-created to ensure clear boundaries and objectives.

Paarl Youth Initiative identified eight of the high school learners in their programme and gave them the opportunity to be mentored by Valcare team members. After the matching of mentors and mentees was done, a mentoring agreement was signed by all participants to ensure commitment.

Stretching over eight sessions, a Valcare mentor and a PYI mentee met for weekly hour-long meet-ups to discuss various life skills topics. The content was built on the widely recognised LEAD Model focusing on the concepts of: looking out for others, ending well, attitude and discipline.

The LEAD Mentoring programme participants were: Beronique Daniëls, Leani Jansen van Vuuren, Leonay Franz, Suveshan Naidoo, Kaywill Hermanus, Ashwin Hendricks, Lize Meyer, Jaybrey Jansen, Nielen Bekker, Enrico Van der Vendt, Heini Heyns, Ivan Swartz, Brendan Smith, Mark Schreuder and Jolanda van der Lingen. Absent on the day: Anniza Burnett and Miché De Klerk.

Making Meaningful Connections

It wasn’t always easy to open up and connect with our mentees. You had to shift all your own challenges to the side, put away technology, and give 100% of your attention to the human in front of you. We had to be vulnerable, humble and do our best to provide guidance, not solutions.

After the programme was completed, we had a celebration event on 23 October 2019 where we handed over certificates and exchanged inspiring words of what the programme has meant to everyone.

The Valcare team with our LEAD mentoring programme partners, Mariëtte Jacobs (MD of Ezrah) and Heini Heyns (CEO of Paarl Youth Initiative).

We increasingly realise that social impact is about more than the numbers and figures. It’s also about the people behind it all.

What the participants had to say:

  • My mentor helped me to believe in myself and that I would one day achieve success.” – Aswhin Hendricks, PYI mentee.
  • This initiative added fantastic value to the lives of these young people. It meant a lot to them receiving wisdom and guidance for their journeys ahead.” – Heini Heyns, CEO of PYI.
  • “I feel inspired – my eyes have opened to a world of potential and opportunities” – Enrico van der Vendt, PYI mentee.
  • Ezrah was privileged to support PYI and Valcare throughout the mentoring project in line with best practice in order to empower the next generation as leaders of change. We are so excited about the potential of these young leaders and know they will grow from strength to strength in their personal lives and careers.” – Mariëtte Jacobs, MD of Ezrah.
  • I will never forget the words of advice I received: to be myself and to always stay positive.” – Leonay Franz, PYI mentee.
  • “It was an honour for Valcare to be involved in the development of young leaders in Paarl. It was a valuable experience for both parties: to assist them to discover and develop their potential whilst we were growing as mentors.” – Lize Meyer, Sustainability Manager of Valcare.
  • I was comfortable enough to open up and express who I really am, and to just be myself.” – Suveshan Naidoo, PYI mentee.