On top of classes, homework, a part-time job and involvement in student groups on campus, Dream Project mentors dedicate a large part of their life to this program. How they do it, nobody knows. As one of the AmeriCorps members, I see countless mentors come in day after day absolutely exhausted. They don’t sleep enough; they don’t eat properly and they never take the time to just relax.
Soon, staff started following suit. No sleep. No food. No time to ourselves. Luckily, one of us came to our senses and Nicole, our program coordinator, took Yen and me in for an advising appointment about self-care. After a few tears and some truthful goal setting, the three of us vowed to set a good example for the mentors in the program by learning to take care of ourselves first.
We began to check in regularly with mentors to make sure they had eaten a proper meal. We brought out leftovers from the food room if there was a need. And if it needed to come to it, yummy Jimmy Johns is just a call and a 4 minute delivery wait away. We also brought pillows and blankets in for power naps throughout the day.
However, it wasn’t enough. One of the mentors came in one day and saw a pack of crayons and decided to start coloring. They mentioned how relaxing it was and then it was obvious what we had to do. Yen started checking in with each mentor who came in to do work, hang out between classes or were in for their office hours. Each mentor was given the opportunity to pick any coloring page to be printed out. It was an easy sell and in a few days, our old crayons were worn out. After buying a new supply, we instituted a self-care wall. The coloring pages hang in the hallway for everyone to see the artistic skills of our mentors.
As much as we wish we could, Yen and I can’t take the entire load off of everyone in DP. We can, however, make the Dream Project Center a relaxing getaway where mentors can take a minute to take care of themselves amidst their busy schedules. Now, more than ever, mentors should come into the DPC to take a breather. Whether it’s listening to our strange mix of holiday music and 90’s R&B jams, drinking some capri suns while discussing Winter Break plans or coloring your favorite Disney princess, stop stressing out and come join us. Mary Gates Hall 274.
Dream Project AmeriCorps Member