10 years of inspiring social change

2018-09-25 06:00
SAYes co-founder Michelle Potter with a group of first-year mentees.PHOTO: Marike Herselman Photography

SAYes co-founder Michelle Potter with a group of first-year mentees.PHOTO: Marike Herselman Photography

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SAYes, a Woodstock-based non-profit organisation that facilitates mentoring for under-served young people, is celebrating 10 years since its founding.

Co-founded in 2008 by UK actress, activist and writer Gillian Anderson and executive director Michelle Potter, the organisation provides a structured, formal mentoring programme for young people growing up in challenging circumstances who are preparing to transition into adulthood.

According to a statement, the organisation matches young people with volunteer mentors and provides a framework and supportive ecosystem of specialised staff and resources designed to maximise the impact and effectiveness of mentoring.

“SAYes believes that the guidance, advocacy and support provided by mentors is key to preparing young people for adulthood and inspiring meaningful social change,” the statement reads.

From its small beginnings with 15 mentor-mentee matches in the first-year programme, SAYes has now grown to 111 mentor-mentee matches in 2018.

Over the last 10 years, the organisation has facilitated a total of 15 750 hours of mentoring for 392 young people in the Cape Town area­.

To celebrate the milestone and as a token of appreciation to its volunteer mentors, SAYes held a special event sponsored by Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel and Netto Invest­.

The event featured former Springbok captain and SAYes mentoring patron, Jean de Villers, as a guest speaker.

De Villiers delivered an uplifting speech about life lessons he learned throughout his rugby career about the importance of perseverance and dedication, especially as he worked tenaciously to beat the odds and overcome multiple severe injuries.

“It’s the responsibility of all South Africans to look around, recognise the need to build more equality, and then take action,” said De Villiers.

“The most important type of success any of us can have is to positively impact someone’s life. Giving of your time through a programme like SAYes Mentoring is a powerful way to do just that.”

Says Anderson: “We’re incredibly proud of this milestone and the impact of SAYes Mentoring over the last decade, particularly the mentors and mentees who have had the courage to continue showing up for each other to make the programme possible.

“I’m filled with gratitude for the generosity of our donors and the SAYes community, who have shown unwavering support for the SAYes vision of creating a more equal world for all young people through mentoring.”

Potter says throughout 10 years of mentoring, her greatest joy has been to witness the relationships that develop between mentors and mentees.

“I’m overjoyed and humbled to celebrate SAYes Mentoring’s 10-year anniversary, but I also know this is just the beginning. Our dream is to one day provide mentorship for every single under-served young person across South Africa,” says Potter.

Mentors also benefit significantly from the SAYes programme. Mentor training is designed and delivered by operations director and research psychologist, Dr Andrew Dellis.

Meanwhile, mentee Lauren Ramos says: “I’ve now had five mentors through SAYes, and my experience with each of them has been empowering and inspiring in a unique way.” V Visit www.sayesmentoring.org.


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