[box]OMSF is honored to work with young talented volunteers who are willing to share their experiences and thoughts on mentorship. Today I am particularly proud to feature a story written and designed by our new mentoring friend, Ali Shirazi. Ali is a senior at Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield, MA. He loves music and hopes someday to be a songwriter-producer. A connoisseur of iconic music talents, he also happens to be an expert on our the career of OMSF co-founder Patti Austin! We couldn’t survive without our altruistic volunteers—people who share their time, wisdom, and expertise to remind us all how much we need each other. Thank you so much, Ali, for sharing this story with us today!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

OMSF Volunteer Ali Shirazi

Faces upon faces upon faces, all unique and all special in their own particular way. Nothing links these faces except for maybe a few things. They all share similar feelings: of excitement and assumed preparedness, ready to take on the next four years of their lives. They think all will soon be great and each day will be filled with excitement and pure splendor.

The thoughts, for some, are of hope for a NEW BEGINNING. They see the halls them with seemingly infinite doors, thinking hope should lie somewhere. The people around them seem intimidating or friendly. But another feeling they might have is a sense of fear. It’s the fear that keeps each person on edge, causing each step to shake more than the last. Despite the excitement and hope, underneath lies an ugliness. There lies a doubt about all their hopes:

“I’ll make FRIENDS, but, maybe I won’t”

“I’ll join football, but, maybe I’m NOT GOOD enough.

“I’ll join DRAMA, but, what’s if I get stage fright? Or, if I’ll even get on the stage…”

“I’ll get my voice out there for once, but, maybe NO ONE CARES. They never had before…”

Those are the few examples of the hopeful yet frightened thoughts that linger within the young minds.

I had volunteered to stand in front of a group of children with these same ideas—the “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” mindset—hoping I could change that, or at least make them feel less anxious. They sat in front of me, their many questions forming a whirlwind. I had to take on the persona of “Time”, to dissipate the tornadoes oncoming with question marks.

In my role as a Junior Mentor at Northeast Metro Tech, the goal was first to help students by easing them from anxiety into more positive thoughts, from fear to pure excitement. I was also expected to ensure they know all the rules and customs of the school, and answer routine related questions. Lastly, optional yet expected, was to be there for my assigned freshmen, or any freshmen that looked like they needed help. Sometimes, just say hi to them to let them feel welcomed. Not just welcomed to the school, but even welcomed by you, a peer. And I had done just that, exchanging greetings with them and asking them if they need help. They’d smile and say hi and how are you. Then, usually, they’d tell me they’re doing fine or they’d ask a quick question.

There are a few instances in which I felt proud, not so much of myself, but of them. One of the girls I mentored came to me during lunch—she asked to sit with me and I said, of course!—and she began telling me how her year went by so far and how well she’s been doing. I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to tell me, that she knew I would listen—it was very brave of her. In another instance, I greeted a boy in the hallway as usual and then he said, “Guess what?” He told me about getting into the shop class he was excited to take and about signing up for sports, that he’s keeping up his grades and he loves the school so far.

I’m happy I got to help some kids with their transition into high school. When I was a freshman, I needed a guide. The teachers stood around and offered direction, but that was about it. However, a senior girl I was already friends with offered me a place to sit at lunch as well as her advice. She introduced me to one of her friends as well. I was lucky to have had a mentor. I appreciated that more than anything, and now I’m glad I got to do it for a new class of students. To greet the minds filled with questions and the “maybe I will and maybe I wont’s” to see them filled with answers and to hear them say, “I know I will.”

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OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and WBZ host Jordan Rich

As a mentor collector, I am naturally surrounded by experts, and every day the OMSF journey introduces me to exquisite , committed individuals, who dedicate their energy to making the world a better place. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting a Boston Icon named Jordan Rich at a dazzling Boston music mentoring night. OMSF was giving a life-time achievement award for promoter Fred Taylor, who has been mentoring in the Boston Music scene for many years. The award ceremony was organized by the fabulous Linda Marks, whom I met when she wrote her magnificent mentoring story for last years Father’s Day, and Jordon Rich was presenting the award to Taylor. I was thrilled when, a few weeks later, Jordan invited me to be a guest on his radio show at the WBZ Studios in Boston.

It was a thought-provoking experience . New ideas were stirring around in my head like a New England Blizzard. As soon as I got home I emailed Jordan to ask if we could bring all the OMSF stories and heroes to his prestigious show: and to my total delight, he said yes!

I am very pleased to announce that OMSF’s mentoring stories—the ones you find right here on our Web site—will also be featured regularly on Jordan Rich’s show. We are so very grateful for this new collaboration, and will be posting the radio interviews on our site. Jordan has interviewed many film, TV, Music stars over the years, and his eclectic show spotlights the whole range of human experience: arts, history, health, sports, politics and now mentoring! Not only that, but Jordan is also mentoring me as I fine tune my radio production skills, and he has graciously offered me the role of Associate Producer, overseeing these mighty mentoring interviews!

Get ready to tune in to the Jordan Rich–OMSF mentoring story of the week!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF executive Director

[box]Without positive influences, we become lost, both as individuals and as a society. That’s why our dedicated team searches for stories of people who use their talents to fuel greater confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in others. We look for exquisite examples of individuals who are moving us all towards a society of greater inclusion. The heart of the OMSF mission is to find a cure for hopelessness, and we believe that mentoring can help solve many personal and social issues.

Today, Marissa Ranahan introduces us to a vibrant new artist, Gemini Wired, who wrote this amazing song to stand up to bullying. Haters be gone. Let this song and all the stories we publish inspire you to get involved with mentoring. One simple way is to share the mentoring stories we write each week with all your friends—you never know how a story might inspire someone else. If we feed creative minds, they just might discover solutions to the many problems we face in this world.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director

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“If you can dream it, you can achieve it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I listened to people who didn’t want to see me prosper.”

We all have dreams. They might be to inspire, to educate, or simply to do well in this life. At Over My Shoulder, we believe in dreams, and in the unique combination of music and mentorship. Kristian Bryant of Brockton, MA, also known as Gemini Wired, dreamed of being a talented musician; recently, merging that dream with a powerful message has inspired thousands.

When I cought Kristian’s music video, “What Now,” I was entranced by her anti-bullying lyrics. The song’s focus is on overcoming the negativity that’s so often thrown at the younger generation. In her own words, she explains her inspiration behind the video “What Now”:

“I want my ‘What Now’ video to inspire as many people as possible. There are kids who have so much to offer and do not know it because they want to hide their talents or intelligence. I don’t want them to be ashamed anymore. I want them to know people like myself and these organizations have their backs. What now!”

The video, which was posted just a few months ago, in fall 2013, has already exceeded over 30,000 views. “I plan on bringing awareness to bullying through my music but also sharing my message to many kids.” Kristian hopes that the sing will give hope and strength to the victims of bullying. She will be visiting schools in the New England area over the coming year, sharing her video and encouraging children to support one another.

“When young people are busy being positive and supportive, you see less cases of (kids) being bullied. I feel compelled to spread the message.”

So, who are her mentors? She described her family as her “greatest” inspiration, constantly providing Kristian with their support and encouragement. “Everything I do is for them (her family).” She also cited her musical support, the production team Lyve City: “They were kind of that missing piece to my puzzle,” she said.

Kristian has been passionate about music from a young age, when she formed a small, short-lived all-girls group. In college she gained knowledge about “producing music, writing music, and beginning to record my own songs.”

Music with a powerful message has the ability to touch us all. Kristian has done an incredible job of inspiring others through her musical ability. With her talent, she’s spreading a positive message of hope. In her unique song, the essence of music and mentoring come full-circle. With inspirational songs like these, mentorship through music becomes a reality.

At Over My Shoulder, we thank Kristian Bryant for her positive messages through music, and all those who continue to write inspirational pieces for all ears to hear.

Marissa Ranahan, OMSF Team Member