By Cherie W. Rolfe
Media Committee Chair
Paula Dirkes knows that the concept of being a “mentor” is scary for many people, but she also knows first-hand that it can be the basis for a fulfilling and meaningful relationship that can change lives – especially for women and girls.
Dirkes has written a book, out this week, titled “Mentor Me! The Complete Guide for Women who want to Mentor Girls.” Her coauthor is her mentee of over a decade, Chelsea McKinney, who is now 22 years old and a student at Michigan Career Technical Institute.
What she hopes to convey is that it doesn’t take a superhero to be a mentor, and it’s something that can be accomplished within the constraints of a busy life.
Dirkes was matched with McKinney through Oakland County Youth Assistance when McKinney was a fifth grader. When their relationship first began, “I thought I had to be the solver of all problems, it freaked me out,” Dirkes said.
But she soon came to discover, “You’re not the fixer or the changer, “you’re just there. You’re a partner, in some cases a listener, a buddy, a friend.”
What young women mentees want, Dirkes says, is someone who will “show up on a regular basis and listen.”
They might view a mentor as “an adult friend that’s supportive and reliable, dependable and respects what you have to say.”
Dirkes wants to encourage other women to take up the mentoring torch. She wrote the book as a guide for her target audience, “busy women,” like herself. Dirkes is the owner of Solid Pathways Consulting, LLC based in Berkley, Mich.
“I want to invite the busy women of the world to take on the task of mentoring a girl, and the whole idea is that you incorporate that child into your existing routine,” Dirkes said.
After all, she says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy woman.”
In conjunction with her book launch, Dirkes will host a mentoring appreciation event Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Unity Church, 11200 E. Eleven Mile Road in Warren, Mich. The event is free and will include networking, mentor/mentee success stories, giveaways, light refreshments, mentoring resources and book signing. To RSVP, e mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Jan. 16.
Paula Dirkes talks about the importance of mentoring girls, how to get involved, and how she incorporated mentoring into her busy life: