PYD Celebrates Its 20th Annual Mentor Appreciation Night

With January being National Disability Mentoring Month, as proclaimed by President Joe Biden, there was no better time to host our 20th annual Mentor Appreciation Night than this month.

Why is mentoring crucial to our youth? As PYD’s Mentoring Director Kristin Humphrey shares, mentored youth:

  1. Participate more actively in school
  2. Understand their career options
  3. Become self-advocates
  4. Surround themselves in supportive communities

And that’s just the start of it. According to a 2014 study by MENTOR, mentored youth are 78% more likely to volunteer regularly and 90% are interested in becoming a mentor themselves. Regina Snowden, PYD’s Founder and Executive Director, even said it herself: “Mentees have grown up and are now in their 30s and 40s and giving back.”

National Disability Mentoring Month has three main goals:

  1. Raise awareness of mentoring and its importance
  2. Recruit mentors
  3. Influence organizations to encourage their staff and members to become mentors

Although we emphasize the importance of mentoring all year long, we look forward to our annual Mentor Appreciation Night to acknowledge the success and impact of mentoring throughout the year.

Celebrating Our 20th Annual Mentor Appreciation Night

Through this event, we celebrate our mentees and the progress they’ve made, honor our mentors and their dedication to PYD, and encourage more individuals and organizations to get involved.

Held on Thursday, January 20th, 2022, our 20th Annual Mentor Appreciation Night went off without a hitch! With 250 registrants, the event kicked off with opening remarks from Kristin and Regina. Regina shared the success of our Stronger Together: 20 Years of Mentoring campaign and announced that a matching donation was made for all donations up to $10,000, therefore allowing us to extend the fundraising deadline to February 25th, 2022. The top fundraisers have the opportunity to win exciting rewards, including tickets to the Peabody Essex Museum and New England Aquarium, a new Xbox, gift cards, and more.

Regina Snowden announcing the campaign.

Following the exciting updates on our fundraiser campaign, we dove into an interactive art activity with Elizabeth Buck from the Worcester Art Museum, where she shared the beautiful oil pastel work of the talented Sam Tomasiello, an artist diagnosed with autism, and then led us through an activity of drawing straight and squiggly lines to portray a bowl of pears on a table.

Showcasing the work of Sam Tomasiello,

Doing an oil pastel art activity.

After we all tried our hands at art, the five honorees were announced:

PYD’s Match Support Manager Jordy Lome, along with Lynn Pais’ mentee Zach, announced Lynn as the 2022 Mentor of the Year after her and her mentee Zachary bonded over their mutual love for food. As Zachary shared, “I can’t imagine how hard it would be without Lynn as my mentor and without her support and mentorship.”

Lynn Pais receiving the 2022 Mentor of the Year award.

Justen K.J.C. Proctor was the recipient of the 2022 LENS Mentor of the Year Award and was presented the award by David D’Arcangelo, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB). David stated, “This kind of work is important, and there’s a need for it.”

Justen K.J.C. Proctor receiving the 2022 LENS Mentor of the Year Award.

Jillian Howell was this year’s recipient of the Greg Dees & Anita McGahan Entrepreneurship Award, presented by PYD’s Career Readiness Program Coordinator Olivia Harris. Through Jillian’s remarkable hard work, she’ll be interning at the Northeast Arc in the Journey’s program to help adults with intellectual disabilities apply for jobs, write resumes, and practice interview skills. Jillian shared, “I feel confident enough in myself to help other people be confident and succeed in the workforce.”

Jillian Howell receiving the Greg Dees & Anita McGahan Entrepreneurship Award,

Anna Weinberger was awarded with the Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Award, presented by PYD’s Youth Leadership Program Manager Carl Sidney, thanks to her dedication to PYD as one of the very first fellows in our inaugural Young Leaders Rising program who helped to recruit other fellows and participants. Anna said, “I’ve taken my job as a peer leader seriously and I’ve impacted a lot of people’s lives. PYD has given me a better understanding on how to find a job and how to keep a job. Even though a lot of advocates have done things for people with disabilities, there’s still a long way to go, and it’s our job to educate people.”

Anna Weinberger receiving the Chris Dunne Peer Leadership Award,

Lastly, Moe Finnerty and PYD’s Director of Outreach & Recruitment and Online Mentoring Coordinator Deep Chinappa presented Cassidy “Carl” Glascock with the Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award for his dedication to and hard work in PYD’s Access to Theater (ATT) program, to which he shared how much he learned from ATT and even read aloud a beautiful poem that he wrote about the program and PYD.

Cassidy “Carl” Glascock receiving the Rayleen Lescay Spirit Award

The night didn’t end there, though–the party continued at an interactive after party with three breakout rooms: Music, Tribute, and Just Chill.

We’re grateful for our mentors, mentees, and supporters for helping us to elevate the work of PYD and our mission to build a more inclusive world. Did you miss out on the celebration? Watch the replay of our 20th Annual Mentor Appreciation Night here.

PYD Presented at the 12th Annual National Mentoring Summit

Our mentoring advocacy doesn’t end there! Kristin and Genelle were at the 12th Annual National Mentoring Summit–held on January 26-28, 2022–and presented the workshop, “Disability Inclusion: How Mentoring Programs Implement Change” with two guests from the Disability Mentoring Certification Cohort–representatives from Starfish Mentoring & HOLLA Mentors.

The workshop covered disability inclusion best practices, promising models, and available resources.

Today is the LAST DAY to sign up for Disability Mentoring Certification. This cohort is offered for FREE, thanks to our friends at MENTOR. If you want to increase your confidence, knowledge and skills and be prepared to take the next step in your organization’s disability inclusion journey this program is for you! Sign up here.

Are you inspired to become a mentor or mentee with PYD? Apply to become a mentor here and enroll in our mentoring program here.