iMentor: A "Ray of Light" for Lehman Bros. Employees

October 31, 2008 - 12:00am

iMentor is witnessing an inspiring phenomenon in the midst of the dire news emanating from the financial world. Until recently, one of iMentor’s largest corporate partners was Lehman Brothers, which provided financial support for iMentor’s programs and more than 100 employees serving as volunteer mentors. When the Lehman collapse became evident, iMentor was unsure how many of the firm’s 117 volunteers would stay onboard in light of their own unstable professional lives. On the day that Lehman’s corporate philanthropy division announced it was no longer able to partner with the organization, iMentor sent an email to the Lehman volunteers letting them know they were welcome to continue mentoring--even without the support of Lehman.

Within hours, iMentor’s phones were ringing off the hook with Lehman employees calling to say they absolutely wanted to continue mentoring with iMentor. One volunteer said that it was his, “one ray of light in the midst of the crisis.” To-date, an astounding 97 of the 117 Lehman volunteers have stayed with the program. Of the 40 Lehman volunteers in the middle of multi-year mentoring commitments, 38 have committed to fulfilling their promise of working with their mentee until that student graduates high school.

Mentors like Gordon McKemie, who was working as an analyst at Lehman when the company collapsed, are now using the experience to provide lessons to New York City youth. "It's been a great opportunity for me to highlight the importance of education and flexibility--knowing that even if something happens with your employer, you have skills that will be in demand elsewhere in the workplace,” says McKemie, who is entering his second year of mentoring Ricardo, a senior at the Bronx Academy of Letters. “If I were working at a plant and the plant closed, my options would be limited. Going to college and doing high level work with my employer--I'm now able to take that elsewhere."

Eric Craig, who is beginning his second year of mentoring a student at the East-West School of International Studies in Queens, says, “Young people sometimes emulate elders who show strength, hard work, and resiliency. Despite uncertainty regarding the varying career issues that I’m currently incurring, it’s extremely important that I strive to continue my relationship with my mentee."

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