A lot has been happening in the Lancaster, PA employment mentoring pilot program we’ve highlighted in previous posts. Eight months into an initial one year pilot, the third group of 12 more refugee-mentor pairs is being finalized to reach a total of 30 teams. Here are a few stories and valuable lessons learned through our ongoing partnership with Lutheran Refugee Services (LRS) of Lancaster, PA and LIRS. The project seeks to deepen refugee social integration through employment-focused mentoring.
Job shadowing, community college orientations and informational interviews are just a few of the opportunities being generated through the program.
One mentee has been preapproved for a home loan and is going through the learning experience of buying a home with the help of his mentor.
For example, Khem and Pramila Subedi and Khem’s mentor Al Duncan, CEO of Thomas E. Strauss, Inc. attended a recent LIRS Board Meeting to talk about their mentoring experience. (See their photo at left.) Khem says that through his participation in the mentor program, “I am getting wider every day.” Al feels that mentoring is a common and valuable experience in our country and it’s not so different to involve refugees.
The initial thinking was that each pair would follow a very unique path based on the opportunities available to work towards achieving specific career goals. Computer skills, advanced ESL and the ability to access additional education and training suggest the need for some common resources and steps to achieving any individual career goals.
At Saturday’s meeting, mentor outreach consultant Ellen Willenbecher provided all of the mentors with a packet listing resources already available in the community. That helps create space to leverage more
of the unique skills mentors can offer. For example, mentor Angela Harnish, an ESL instructor at the University of Delaware, offered a workshop on easy strategies for working on accent reduction. The room was packed with refugee mentees and their friends and families (See photo at left.)