Wiltonian signs up to be a positive role model

After retiring last year, Wiltonian Robert Maher decided to become a mentor through Person-to-Person (P2P)’s Mentoring 4 Success Scholarship program.
P2P mentors sign up to be positive role models for local high school graduates in the P2P program — many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
Mentees are awarded $5,000-per-year college scholarships and matched with mentors, with whom they work with over four years, until they graduate from college.
Prior to becoming a P2P mentor, Maher and his wife, who have three adult children of their own, served as a A Better Chance (ABC) of Wilton host family for Sophie Delfeus, a first-generation Haitian-American from Queens, N.Y., who graduated from Wilton High School in 2013.
“We helped her through the college process and she’s now a third-year student at Amherst and is currently enjoying her semester abroad in Chile,” said Maher.
“The experience with Sophie led me to look towards the Person-to-Person model.”
Maher mentors a 19-year-old named Medinard Michel, who, like Sophie, is a first-generation Haitian-American with “a lot of potential and a lot to offer.”
“He’s diligent, hardworking, thoughtful, earnest, and he totally understands the opportunity that’s been presented to him,” said Maher.
“He’s up at UMass, where he’s about to begin his sophomore year. He was tapped last semester to become an honors student, which is no small thing. It’s a very big honor and he takes that with great pride.”

Mentor role

P2P mentors provide support and encouragement and engage in regular conversations with their mentees to help them:

  • Set expectations.

  • Establish realistic goals.

  • Develop aspirations for the future.

  • Help position them to succeed in college.

As a mentor, Maher said, “I am somebody who’s here to offer observations, listen to his concerns and, in turn, try and see if I can offer some guidance on how to move forward.”
“One of the things I’ve been doing is encouraging him to go to the college career office, look for opportunities, look for internships and do internships as soon as he can,” said Maher.
“He’s already thinking about going into the public health sector because he knows there are job potentials out there. He has applied himself aggressively and he’s got his eye on the ball.”
Navigating and understanding the college process and system can be “kind of daunting,” said Maher, “certainly for first-generation students, whose parents haven’t gone through the process themselves.”
“There are programs out there that first-generation and people of lesser fortunes don’t necessarily know about that are part of the college package and are probably less tapped into than they ought to be,” said Maher.
“It’s an unfortunate thing. I don’t think there’s enough outreach through the college communities to include these students and understand that they need to be addressed.”
Maher said the lack of outreach from the college community is a “paramount issue that needs to be addressed” so students like his mentee can “get in and get ahead.”
“They’re just as important in society as anybody else and just as deserving as others — if not more deserving — to enjoy the benefits of those types of programs,” he said.
Anyone interested in being a P2P mentor may contact Kim Collibee at 203-621-0682 or kimcollibee@p2phelps.org.

About P2P

P2P is a community-supported agency based in Darien and Norwalk that provides emergency assistance to individuals and families in need.
To learn more about Person-to-Person, visit p2phelps.org or call 203-655-0048.