What is it?
What is the Peer Mentoring Program, and how does it work?
The Peer Mentoring program is one of the four core services at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living. The mission of the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living is to work with people with disabilities in fulfilling their desire to lead productive, self-determined lives
As a person with a disability, a peer mentor can share his/her ideas, knowledge, experience, skills, and help guide or share with another individual. Often both people benefit as they learn with each other. Participants of the Peer Mentoring program must have a disability defined by the ADA. MCIL strongly encourages individuals to join the Peer Mentoring program.
The Peer Mentoring Program is a "goal-oriented" and "community based" program. The primary focus of this program is the consumer's goal(s). Volunteer mentors will share their time, skills, experience, knowledge and resources with peer consumers who wish to eliminate/overcome particular barriers in his/her life and also want to learn to live more independently. A Peer Mentoring Team is created when mentor's skills seem to match a consumer's goal(s). The two individuals meet in the community to accomplish the consumer's specific goals.
Some of the typical goal areas may include:
- personal growth/self help
- social recreation
- education training/technology
- communication/social skills
- consumer/legal rights
- daily living/housing
- health care/nutrition
The Peer Mentoring program pairs two individuals who might be a good match for each other. Criteria for a good match may include (but not limited to) whether a mentor's skills match consumer's goal interests and also whether these two individuals share a close geographic living proximity to minimize travel time for meetings. Matches are not necessarily based on similar disabilities.
The Program Coordinator contacts two individuals who may be a potential match/Peer Mentoring Team. If interested, the mentor and consumer may decide to meet with Coordinator at MCIL. At the meeting individuals: meet each other, ask each other various questions, and get to know one another. Individually, each decides whether he/she would like to continue. If the two decide to work together, the consumer's goals and objectives are then set. If individuals choose not to work together, opportunities are still available for each to potentially work with someone else.
Mentors are responsible for keeping the program coordinator updated on Mentee's goal progress. The mentor, consumer, and peer mentoring program coordinator meet periodically to review the consumer's progress. Peer Teams work together to improve consumer's skills such as: learning computer basics or building social relationships. Others meet to expand awareness of community resources and transportation options. People also meet to have fun and socialize at MCIL workshops and events! (Click here for more details)
When a consumer's goal(s) are completed, the relationship between the two often continues. (Peer mentors are often in the peer consumer role first.) Once an individual becomes a volunteer-mentor, he/she is required and responsible for attending on-going training sessions every three months. The team continues to focus primarily on mentee's needs/goals until they are met.
MCIL currently has several paid opportunities for volunteer peer mentors!