January 08, 2021
National Mentoring Awareness Month
A Letter From The Executive Director
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Mentoring is nothing new. We can trace it back to the heroic tale of Odysseus leaving his son, Telamachus, in the care of Mentor. But as outsiders started to close in and take over his household, Goddess Athena descends and takes the form of Mentor—a kind of divine intervention—to give Telamachus the guidance he truly needs.
Gregory Nagy, a Professor of Classics at Harvard, offers some important context that gets at the deeper meaning of this story and the act of mentoring. He says Telamachus struggles in the areas of Menos and Napios. Menos is defined as mental strength; and Napios means he was disconnected. What better place to start than with youth who are disconnected and still forming their mental strength?
Mentoring in the classical sense are stories crafted around a “model of initiation that appeals to the inherent nobility of the person who is being initiated.” For the children that have mentors and those of us that have been mentored, this is an important reminder that we are truly worthy.
Those who have served as mentors in our lives deserve praise. The youth deserving of a mentor require our support. Join Friends of the Children – Los Angeles (Friends LA) throughout the month of January to celebrate Mentor Awareness Month. Take care to thank those Giants in your life that have invested their time and wisdom with you so you, too, can stand tall and strong on their shoulders.
Thomas G. Lee