Volunteer Opportunity

Mentor Ronda and her mentee Cein are having a blast working with Petaluma artist Kevin Clark on his latest art project. You’ve most likely seen some of his other creations, like Rhino Redemption (above) and Medusa Madness, outside his Reared in Steel studio at the corner of East Washington and Copeland Streets. Well, Kevin’s new art project is called Flower Tower and he needs volunteers to help pound metal into flowers…nearly 10,000 of them!

Ronda says, “It’s a great outlet for lots of things, creativity being one of them! I brought Cein the first time because I had a meeting, the second time because I wanted to make flowers with him, and the third time he requested to go. He really enjoys it.”

Ronda and Cein would like to share this experience with others and have organized a work party for mentors and mentees. Gather at the studio and learn how to bend flat metal into beautiful flowers, just like the ones pictured.

Mentor Me Flower Making Party
Wednesday, June 14th from 3:00 – 6:00 pm
110 Copeland Street in Petaluma
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to info(@)wrmm.org or 707-778-4798. (Replace the (@) with simply @ in the email address).

Please bring yourselves, water and gloves. Hope to see you there!



Lost in Translation

I had the honor of being invited by a local elementary school to give a short presentation, sit on a panel and lead a discussion about the post-election climate and how it is affecting our immigrant populations. The event was held in the auditorium and the room was set up for about one hundred people. The five chairs for the panelists were at the front of the room facing the audience. Behind us was a large screen that would project the “Know Your Rights” portion of the Immigration Information Night. As the school community filed into the room and took their seats they also took headsets. It became clear that there would not be enough headsets for the number of people needing translation into Spanish, but the program was already launching with a warm welcome and introduction in Spanish by one of the teachers at the school. The presentations began with an immigration lawyer in the private sector who was also one of the parents at the school. Her presentation was in Spanish. She gave what seemed to be a very heartfelt and informative presentation. People were visibly moved, as was she. Her slides were in both English and Spanish thank goodness because I could at least turn around and follow along that way.

Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish?

The lawyer then introduced her friend and fellow immigration attorney who works for the County of Sonoma. She did not use the projector, but instead gave an impassioned and seemingly informed presentation in Spanish. She introduced the next panelist, a Petaluma Police Officer who gave his presentation in Spanish as well. The remaining two of us, both directors of non-profit social service agencies gave brief presentations in English that were translated by one of the teachers. We would pause after a sentence or two and wait for the translation. We sat down and sat attentively while the discussion continued in Spanish facilitated by the second immigration attorney. It was a long night but the families appeared to be soaking up the information and the connection to trusted officials and people who could answer their questions and calm their fears.

I could not help but think of the kids in our program who arrive from Mexico and other countries not speaking English and starting school right away. Some of these kids often get in trouble at school for being disruptive in the classroom, for not paying attention and not doing their work. I know the schools do the best they can for these kids and the hope is that the immersion into to the culture and the language will speed up the process of assimilation and learning. That evening at the Immigration Information night, I experienced just a small bit of what it is like for them.

First, I could not do the job I was asked to do that night and that part was clear right away and embarrassing.

Secondly, I desperately wanted and needed to know the information being presented so I could pass it along to the families I work with. That was not going to happen no matter how long I sat there.

At first, I was concentrating very hard to catch what was being said. I know a handful of words and honestly thought I could get some of it from context. I could not. The straining and concentrating was exhausting after an already very long day at work and no dinner.

I then began to feel very anxious that I would be called upon to say something or do something I was not equipped to do. My body temperature fluctuated from hot to cold over the course of the two and a half hour event. I started to look around the room for exits, wondering if I could somehow slink away. After a while and after my very brief presentation, I began to feel invisible. I was up in front of over 100 people, I know, but it was the strangest sensation of being completely invisible and unnecessary-irrelevant. I made my way emotionally through a few more phases.

Irritability: “Why didn’t someone offer the four English speaking people in the room headsets and have someone translate for us?”

Sadness: “This is what it means to be in a vibrant community and be completely invisible.

And finally, complacency: “I wonder what my family is eating for dinner? I wonder how my daughter did on her chemistry test?” As the minutes went by, I actually looked at my phone a couple of times.

Can you imagine that????? I’m in a suit! I’m a panelist!!! I’m supposed to be a community leader! At the very least, I’m supposed to be a considerate and well-mannered adult.

What I learned that night is this: When we don’t have access to education, resources and community – when we are not seen and cannot communicate our pain – we cannot learn, we cannot grow, we cannot thrive and we do not show up in our best light.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have experienced first-hand and first-heart just a little bit of what some of our immigrant families experience when they come here. My level of compassion has deepened. I am impassioned to learn more.

Mentor Me is hosting another “Know Your Rights” Immigration Information Night on May 24, 2017 from 7:00-8:30pm at the Mentor Me Cavanagh Recreation Center. The same panelists have agreed to come, the entire presentation will be in Spanish, hosted by a Spanish speaking person. There will be plenty of headsets and translation for English speakers. There will be food and childcare. I will sit in the audience and listen, grateful for the ability to access any information I want or need, grateful for the way the world feels open to me, the way it feels like a playground without fences or borders or bullies.


Question & Answer Session


Please join us for an inspiring Question & Answer session all about mentoring!

Monday, May 22nd from 5:00 – 6:30 pm at Miwok Valley Language Academy located at 1010 St. Francis Drive in Petaluma.

For more about mentoring, please visit the ‘Become A Mentor’ tab above or give us a call.

Hope to see you there!