'You can actually make a difference'

Why I volunteer as a mentor at JobsWork MKE

Volunteer mentors play an important role in the success of JobsWork participants. A mentor serves as a coach and cheerleader, helping participants handle workplace issues and other challenges.

Mike Hennick (pictured above), a retired communications executive with Miller Brewing/MillerCoors, is a longstanding mentor at JobsWork. Here, he shares why he finds the role important and inspiring:

Why did you become a mentor?

One of my main objectives after retiring was to have an impact on the economic development of the city I love, Milwaukee, which has struggled for so long. I felt the best way to do that would be to help with employment because everything comes down to jobs for stability in our community. I also was troubled by the disparities in our community and wanted to do something to help.

That’s when I got connected with JobsWork. This was a way for me to see the struggles that a

lot of our fellow community members have with getting a job, keeping a job, and succeeding -- starting to flourish and prosper.

This gave me the opportunity to work on a very personal level and to see somebody grow and develop and hopefully do better than he or she might do otherwise.

What have you learned as a mentor?

I’m learning a lot from my mentees, probably more than they’re learning from me. I’m getting a sense of the challenges many of them face and the resilience that they display. That resilience inspires me.

I’m learning a lot about how trauma has an impact on people’s lives. How it can prevent you from taking three steps forward. You might take two steps forward and one step back, because trauma pulls you back.

I learned that if you continue to show up as a mentor, you’re giving some level of stability to your mentee and that can go a long way over time.

I’ve also learned to be more patient, to be a better listener.

What’s rewarding about being a mentor?

Any sign of progress in my mentee. When he calls and says, “Hey, I got this apartment!” Or texts me, “I got the job.” That excitement, and the fact that he wants to share that with me, is really heartening.

It helps you accept some of the setbacks that inevitably come. You realize that okay, you’re going to have setbacks, but at least these moments of triumph do happen and will happen.

It’s also rewarding to have a friend I wouldn’t normally have. I consider a couple of my mentees as friends, people I enjoy.

Why should someone consider becoming a mentor?

It gives you a sense that you’re contributing to the community. You’re contributing to one person you can actually make a difference with. If you make a difference with that one person, he or she is going to make a difference with others, and that’s how you get a multiplier effect and are able to improve our world.

One person, one life, one job at a time.

To learn more about becoming a mentor, contact Clinton Wray at JobsWork MKE by emailing clinton@jobsworkmke.org