Mentoring is the practice of introducing new garden club members to the club, its rules and expectations, how it is set up and how it operates, its history, the Garden Club Federation and classes, and giving emotional support to these new people. A mentor is assigned to each new member for the first year or two, and is responsible for the following:
Let the new member know you are her/his mentor. Set up formal and informal get-togethers where the above subjects and the club’s overall ambience and other details are explained. With Newsletter and Yearbook in hand, go over each topic. Invite your mentee over to your home and slowly go through the Yearbook, explaining and answering questions along the way. The Officer List and Committee List are opportunities to both explain the officer setup and the workings of each committee, and explore any interest from your mentee. The calendar can be a jumping off point of explanation of the year’s events and what exactly they are. Then you can proceed to the by-laws, etc. or save that for another time. You can even use the title page to tell about the GC Federation and the structure of garden clubs in the U.S. More than one new member can be included in many of these activities, i.e., when explaining the Yearbook and duties. One to two hours at a time is long enough. Too many details become overwhelming.
You can also offer to drive to a few meetings in the beginning or sit with her/him for a while at the meetings so they do not feel alone. Without being too cloying, be sure the new member gets gradually introduced to others at the meetings. Notice if the member is talking and enjoying her/himself. If not, casually get over there and engage.
Be available by phone to answer questions. Find out the member’s interests and guide her toward a suitable committee. Another way to mentor is to invite your person along on one of your tasks, such as cleaning up the Library or selling raffle tickets, where an extra hand is always helpful. Since the person is new, they probably are not signed up for any commitments, and this gives them a taste of the club and a chance to get to know a smaller group at work.
Mentoring is a sub-group of the Membership Committee. It may or may not have a specific chairperson, but someone must be in charge of assigning mentors and making sure the new people are getting the information and attention they need. Mentoring is one of the best ways of assuring new joiners will remain in the club and be active people. Being a mentor is an important job and should be undertaken by those who have a true interest in fostering participatory membership.
Carol Holly 2022