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I'RAISE Volunteer Mentor and Student Spotlight

Updated: Jan 5

When retired United Nations employee Elsa checks her email, she finds poems from Jaeleen, the eighth grader she works with through I'RAISE's volunteer mentoring program. When Jaeleen feels like she does not fit in with other teenagers, Elsa reminds her about her positive qualities.

Elsa, I'RAISE volunteer mentor.

Elsa enjoys a "very wonderful relationship” with Jaeleen, the second student she has mentored through I’RAISE. They have virtual mentoring sessions every Saturday, and have been working together as mentor and mentee for over a year.

Their mentoring sessions begin with Elsa asking questions about what is going on in Jaeleen's life in the past week. The mentor takes notes every session so she can better understand any issues Jaeleen may be facing and how she can help her.

Elsa believes that the mentoring program has helped Jaeleen with self-esteem and confidence “because I always list what her strengths are as a young person.” Elsa says her mentee is “amazing” and “an old soul, very mature in terms of thoughts.”

What Elsa most likes about the mentoring program is “the opportunity to be able to guide and assist a young mentee after listening to her and understand what her issues are, what makes her self-confident, what are her aspirations, what are her challenges, and point out to her what her strengths are,” Elsa says.

She also wants Jaeleen to know that she is not the only one “who goes through these difficult times in life—we all do.” One thing the mentor finds rewarding is “the ability to ease someone’s emotional and psychological challenges in their youth and be able to share some wisdom as to how to tackle it and rise above it and hopefully achieve these goals.”

One of Jaeleen’s goals is to earn high grades and attend college on scholarship. Elsa shares her knowledge and helps her mentee work toward these goals, “especially during times of losing hope. I think it’s a very good thing to be able to contribute.”

Elsa believes that, with mentoring, Jaeleen is not as self-conscious as she once was. The teenager expressed feelings about not fitting in with her friends and classmates. Elsa pointed out to her that she has “a lot of other assets.”

Jaeleen will send emails to Elsa of her thoughts and poems she has written, including haikus. In addition, Elsa sends her student emails and writes her cards, taking the time to “list all the positives she has.”

Elsa started working with I’RAISE through RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in 2022. An AmeriCorps program, RSVP is a national organization with a database of volunteers and many organizational partners.

Elsa has a background in administration, human resources, and program management. She worked for the United Nations for over thirty years, and also been a mentor there.

Elsa hopes to continue working with Jaeleen until the student finishes college. She “would like to be able to steer her in the right direction,” as without guidance, “there are so many detours one could make.”

Visit our volunteer page to learn more about I’RAISE’s volunteer opportunities and mentoring programs. Our virtual mentors provide support, guidance, and help youth develop life skills. Click here donate to I'RAISE and support youth in your community who benefit from mentoring, tutoring, or other services.


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