TeamMates finds way to safely connect mentors, mentees

TeamMates Mentoring of Lincoln is still finding ways to connect mentors and mentees at a time when those relationships could be more important than ever.

When Lincoln Public Schools closed buildings to students last month, TeamMates staff knew they had to find a way that nearly 2,500 mentors and mentees could stay in touch. Their solution: the TeamMates Email Exchange.

Here’s how it works: Each TeamMates of Lincoln staff member serves as an "email exchange helper" - a virtual mail carrier, if you will - for all the TeamMates matches in their assigned schools. This enables matches to continue developing their relationships remotely while maintaining the safety policies that TeamMates requires. TeamMates staff review and forward the emails with the mentor and mentee email addresses removed.

To date, 697 mentors and 262 mentees have reached out through the email exchange - many of them more than once. "That's a really good start," said TeamMates Coordinator Jim Bennett. "But we're not done. Keeping all these matches connected in all the ways we can is the most important work we can do right now." 

Mentors have showered TeamMates with praise for establishing the email exchange. 

One mentor said, “Thanks for being my ‘pen pal in-between’ - love that you're all trying to make this work despite not being able to physically connect. It would've been a huge bummer to not get to see or talk to my mentee for months. Summers are hard enough." 

The email messages have been inspiring. 

"What I'm seeing is trust, built for many of them since middle and even elementary school,” said Angee Dostal, who facilitates high school matches. “Mentors are sharing messages of care and encouragement and even humor. I'm even seeing mentees responding with empathy for mentors facing challenges posed by the pandemic."

Published: April 28, 2020, Updated: April 28, 2020