The Mutual Benefits of Mentoring

Partners for New Generations seeks mentors and tutors for the 2011-12 school year.

Kolotina Tangi has moved around a lot in her 15 years.

As a foster kid, her unstable home situation had affected her academics and in her desire to love and be loved, she took on the emotional burden of friends—sometimes to the point of depression.

However her outlook began to change after Carole Dorshkind, the tutor and mentorship recruitment coordinator for Partners for New Generations (PNG), visited Tangi's AVID classroom at and spoke about PNG. Tangi decided she wanted and needed someone to talk to and do things with.

"In my old home I felt neglected," said Tangi thoughtfully. "I didn't have anyone to hang out with and even my friends, they were sometimes busy."

Now, stated the smiling teen as she finished off a yogurt parfait at , "I see Marsha once a week, sometimes more and I look forward to it."

Through PNG, Dorshkind paired Tangi with Marsha Adler—an empty-nester with the continued desire to help children. At that moment, Adler became one of nearly 1000 mentors to have worked with students over the 16 year history of PNG. Close to 3,860 students–within the and and (MVLA)–have also benefitted from the tutoring services of program.

The non-profit works out of space at MVHS and received financial support from MVLA.

"We encourage them to be friends and have fun together," said Dorshkind. "And [Tina and Marsha] are modeling that."

PNG targets students with high academic potential, some who could be the first in their family to attend college. Others might come from single-family households. At times the students are learning English and "some kids are bright, motivated and eager to assimilate," said Dorshkind. Sometimes teachers and parents refer students, she explained. But PNG doesn't advertise because they don't have enough mentors.

According to PNG, 100 percent of the mentored students , 80 percent of those at MVHS and 50 percent at improved their grade point averages inthe 2009-10 school year. This type of improvement, Adler she saw in Tangi this year.

"Tina has had a lot of challenges, but she's flourished," Adler said.

Adler and Tangi meet once or more every week, sometimes to watch a movie or go bowling, and the two are in constant communication.

"We usually have a meal and talk," said Adler, who added that Tangi taught her how to text and that's how they throw ideas around about what their plans could be. "Carole made it clear that I'm not her mother, shrink or teacher and I think that's a good thing."

"It puts me into a different category," she said. "She knows I'm available when she needs me."

Adler, who works as a social services policy analyst for Supervisor Liz Kniss, talked highly of Tina and seemed really invested in her. Adler has helped Tina fundraise for a bike and now wants to help Tina procure guitar lessons.

"When we first met, [Tina] was depressed. She was in a terrible situation," Adler said in reference to another home change. "We were both getting to know one another and as things changed, she began to blossom, like a flower."

The bubbly Tangi, who aspires to be a performance artist who sings and plays instruments, also realizes the impact the program has had on her.

"I would recommend that other students do this," she said. "It helps you a lot and takes your mind off the negative things in your life."

PNG will host on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Nov. 17 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the at 1299 Bryant Avenue.

For more information contact: carole.dorshkind@mvla.net or 650-766-2162

Claudia Cruz (Editor) October 18, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Growing up I didn't have a mentor like the one that PNG offers students. However, I was very fortunate to have a collection of adults that showed genuine interest in my well-being.
Alicia C. October 18, 2011 at 09:05 PM
Very cool to learn, but not surprised, that Marsha Adler is involved with this. Kudos!
Avni Nijhawan October 19, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Great, positive story!


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