Mentoring Corps for Community Development

2016 NESS AmeriCorps Financial & Career Counseling

AmeriCorps Students Feedback:

  • “You guys have made me feel better about being an adult!”
  • “It was great to be able to focus conversations on the questions we had. I feel better prepared, with more strategies and ideas for resumes, job searching and interviewing.”
  • “This was incredibly valuable! I really enjoyed networking with the MCCD representatives and picking their brains about the best ways to present yourself to future employers.”

Quarterly Newsletter – March 2016

During the quarter, Harry Sedgwick, a founding member of MCCD, resigned from the board; so is now our first Member Emeritus. He will be sorely missed. In February, we welcomed two new board members: Susan and Frank Cummiskey joined as new board members in February. They had been attending meetings regularly for the past couple of months, and had contributed generously to our organization for some time.

Working on educational programs dominated much of the time of MCCD members during the quarter: helping students prepare for and then helping to judge Old Lyme’s Middle School Science Olympiad;
helping fifth-grade students with the “invention-convention” program in Old Lyme’s two elementary schools; and lining up speakers and preparing programs for the STEM program at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London, along with a concomitant program at New London’s Renzulli Academy for gifted students. At the request of the LOL school, half a dozen MCCD board members have devoted an hour a week to mentoring Middle School students. Additionally, career counseling was provided those who wished it, at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, and preparations are underway for a repeat of last year’s career training seminar to AmeriCorps volunteer teachers at NESS (New England Science and Sailing Foundation). It is our belief, along with those of the officials at AmeriCorps, that our myriad experiences can be used to help young people write resumes and prepare for jobs with mock interviews.

We were asked to help out with Work Vessels for Vets (WVV), a non-profit based in Noank, Connecticut. WVV is an eight-year old organizations that helps veterans start or continue businesses. An owner of a franchise business in Old Lyme asked for our help in terms of increasing revenues. MCCD remains committed to helping the community sparkle: that means working with schools and other educational organizations, for-profit businesses, eleemosynary groups, individuals and families who can benefit from our mentoring.

Quarterly Newsletter – June 2015

With the finish of this past quarter, we completed three full years. Without meaning to brag, we feel we have accomplished a lot. We devoted parts of a couple of weekly sessions to looking back with the purpose of better organizing ourselves. Board member John Forbis put together a list of our current and former clients into half a dozen groups. They fall into six main categories: Schools, For-Profits, Not-for Profits, Humanitarian, Town and Career Counseling. The For-Profit category is further broken down between start-ups and existing businesses. John also developed a grading system that allows us to see how we are doing versus the client’s expectations and how the client is doing compared to the suggestions we had made. John is a tough task master. Of the 66 individuals, school and town programs, businesses and non-profits we have worked with, only sixteen received a better-than-average grade.

There are 14 initiatives with two public schools – the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London and the Lyme-Old Lyme School system. Of those, seven have been completed. In New London, the projects are primarily related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and consist of teaching programs we have developed. In the Old Lyme schools, our work has been more diverse, ranging from mentoring, to judging at their “invention conventions” to helping out at their Summer Academy.

In the for-profit category, we have worked with a number of small and mid-size businesses. Of the twenty businesses we have worked with, two are prospective, six on-going, four in limbo and eight have either been completed or our work was terminated. The breadth of businesses has been both interesting and challenging. In a few cases, it has been found that brain-storming sessions are what the client really needs. Regardless, for those of us who have spent their lives in the private sector, it is good to see that entrepreneurship is alive and well in South Eastern Connecticut. Working with these people provides a sense of the joy that work brings, and the pride that comes from being one’s own boss.

Within the non-profit arena, we have on-going relations with several of the nineteen groups we have met with. In some cases we have successfully completed a project and invited back to assist with another phase. In other cases, either we failed or the client chose not to take our advice. Among those with humanitarian needs, our doors are always open. We have helped half a dozen individuals, people who have been victims of storms to those who have suffered bouts of depression and/or substance abuse.

We have been moving to more formalize our relationships with town officials, inviting the First Selectperson to attend our meetings on a quarterly basis. In these cases, projects are often long-termed; so measuring success on a quarterly basis is not meaningful.

We feel good about the good we are doing and look forward to finding more volunteers for the opportunities we see that abound in this corner of Connecticut.