As we gear up to celebrate the 2022 MENTOR of the Year Awards, we’re thrilled to announce this year’s award recipients! Each mentor’s story is as unique as the relationships they foster with their mentees — but they all share a commitment to helping young people reach their greatest potential.
For two award recipients, mentoring offered a chance to connect with and contribute to their
adopted communities. Alvaro Marrero was born and raised in Uruguay before immigrating to the United States when he was 28. Inspired by the support he received while navigating a new country, he volunteered to mentor with Bigs & Littles NYC Mentoring in the hope his experiences could be helpful to someone else.
Alvaro was matched with his mentee, Jose, during the height of the pandemic, forcing the pair to have their first meetings online. Despite these challenges, they developed a strong and trusting relationship.
“Jose and I have found commonalities, which I feel have made our mentoring relationship stronger,” Alvaro said.
“We often discuss Jose's difficulties with Spanish as a subject in high school, and I have compared and shared with him my own issues when learning English back in the day.”
Tyler Drayton also sought to connect to his new community through mentoring. Tyler moved to New York from Australia in 2017 and discovered Student Sponsor Partners the following year. He felt the organization offered a great opportunity to “contribute directly and meaningfully” to the young people around him — and he signed up on the spot.
Tyler couldn’t have asked for a better match than then-15-year-old Gabriel (Gab), who over time welcomed his mentor into his life as a friend and confidant. The pair have maintained their relationship for several years and plan to stay connected as Gab starts his first year at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Tyler considers Gab to be “an integral member of our New York community and family,” and the new freshman feels the same.
"Tyler is family to me,” Gab said. “He's like a big brother, someone to look up to. I know if I'm going through something or need motivation or advice, I can turn to him and he will always be there."
Melissa Cabrero was a senior in high school when she joined Her Honor Mentoring as a mentee. Now an established professional, she seized the chance to become a virtual mentor with the Westchester-based program during the pandemic.
“I know firsthand the power and meaning of effective mentoring, especially with young women of color, and I wanted to jump on the opportunity as soon as it was presented to me to give back to the community,” she explains.
Over two years, Melissa mentored Diana and Alejandra — both high school seniors at the time — as they navigated the virus, their academics, college applications, and other day-to-day challenges, in addition to the racial reckoning witnessed after the murder of George Floyd.
“After meeting Melissa, I realized that I was not alone when it comes to certain situations, like preparing for college applications, handling schoolwork, personal life, etc. There is help,” said Alejandra.
Our final recipient is honored with the Luke Boisi award, for taking up the mentoring torch after being a mentee themselves. David Crawford, also a mentor with Bigs & Littles NYC Mentoring, found a mentor in his grandfather when his mother became terminally ill. David was involved in various types of community service projects with his family, and he believes it’s important to continue that tradition.
When he met his mentee, 17-year-old Matthew, in 2021, the talkative pair quickly formed a bond. They’ve since shared many fun adventures, including biking from Queens to the Brooklyn Bridge and back. While Matthew was initially nervous, their bike rides are now a great source of confidence and independence for the mentee.
“It's what they tell us in training: I continue to learn much from Matthew, and I hope he learns from me,” David said. “We continue to look forward [and] encourage each other not only in our professional lives but also in our personal lives.”
Meet these inspiring mentors and hear their full stories live at the 2022 MENTOR of the Year Awards on Wednesday, September 21 at the Bowery Hotel in Manhattan. Join us for an evening of fun, food, and networking — all in support of a great cause!