By Kathy Vorwerk, past co-president, Amherst LWV

This past fall the Board of the League of Women Voters of Amherst endorsed a new program designed to increase our core of active, involved members in our League’s “family.”  That program is based on two assumptions:

  • First, if new members can be easily and quickly involved in League activities, they will be more likely to remain involved and become active members and contributors to the League’s mission.
  • Second, interaction with a League member can have a powerful effect on an individual’s perception and attitude toward the League. We believe this because so many of us in the Amherst League were drawn in by a member—our mother perhaps, or a friend or colleague, or someone else whose opinion we valued.

Our program, the New Member Mentor Program, began this spring and is being met with great enthusiasm!

The concept is simple. When someone joins, she/he is assigned to a mentor, a member of the League who acts as a League “buddy.” The mentor contacts the new member, personally welcomes her or him into the League, and then offers various kinds of assistance such as:

  • A ride to the next meeting
  • Lunch or coffee to talk about the League—how it functions, what it is currently doing, the kinds of things the new member might like to become involved with
  • Answers to any and all questions by phone, email, or in person
  • In general, the mentor offers to be the “face” of the Amherst League –not pushy but personal, friendly, and companionable.

If a new member decides she/he does not want a mentor, that is fine; no one will ever be pressured to accept a mentor.

All our mentors are volunteers. It is something almost everyone in our League except our very newest members, can participate in.  For example, members who are house-bound for any reason can give their advice and counsel by phone or email.

It is too early to have real data on the success of the New Member Mentor Program, but informal reactions have been very positive.  Members have been signing up to act as mentors and five pairs have already been formed.  Our membership chair calls it a “very good idea” that “encourages involvement in our League.” Informal feedback from the new members who are participating indicates that they feel both supported and welcomed and already involved in the League. One of our long-term  members sums up the general feeling of our membership, “This is an opportunity for us to have a real impact on the future of our League!”