In the Sonoran desert, the heat has crept towards its peak. Summer is in full swing.
At the same time, elsewhere, behind the mountain range that surrounds the Tucson Valley, moisture has been condensing and building in pressure. These are the simultaneous movements that lead up to the monsoon in Southern Arizona, which is just upon us.
During this season of monsoon, let us reflect on the ways that our labors of endurance and effort are aided by the grace of fresh new energy. Indeed, as you will read below, the pioneering work of so many at Boys to Men Tucson to show up for the boys in Southern Arizona over the years is currently finding all kinds of new boosts, reliefs, and opportunities. Dive in to find out more and to see where you can help!
So far this summer we have had a flurry of awesome activity and engagement between our mentors and boys. In June we loaded up a van full of teenaged boys and headed to Rocks and Ropes for a day of climbing, exploration, and pizza. We had a great turnout, and moreover some fantastic reflection between the boys and mentors about the relationship between experimenting with our boundaries (like dangling from a rope off of a rock) and respecting our limitations (like that's enough blisters on my hands for today). It was an awesome experience and we want to express our profound gratitude for everybody that helped make it a success!
Our next outing will be on the 20th of July, when we have a late day hike and picnic up Mt. Lemmon. We still have available space for mentors and for boys, so let us know!
Beyond that, our digital summer zoom circles have been a great success, with a handful of boys taking advantage of our online check-in space with mentors on Tuesdays at noon throughout the summer.
More information on our summer zoom circles can also be accessed by visiting our events page on the website!
Reclaiming Our Teenage Fire
At the end of the month, the staff of Boys to Men Tucson travelled to San Diego to visit the founders of the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, and to go through their training for mentors, "Reclaiming Your Teenage Fire."
An amazing experience with the founders of Boys to Men, this experience filled us up with excitement and energy to continue to boost this work here in Tucson. We also documented our amazing journey on the BTMT Instagram page, so click the link to find out more!
Mentor Gatherings - New Circles
Through all of these transitions, it's felt important recently to inaugurate more regular spaces for mentors to come together and to do our own work with one another. After all, the circle work that we do to hold space for the boys isn't only a critical practice for the boys, but it is also critical work for the adults.
In June, we held a mentors circle where we discussed the many transformations that BTMT had undergone over the years. We practiced sharing our experiences, holding each other's truths, and asking for what we needed. We also invited young men who were former participants in our School-Based Mentoring circles to share with us about their perspectives. This was an awesome experience and helped us to realize the critical importance of holding regular circle spaces for the adults and mentors committed to our mission to do our own work.
In recognition of this, we are going to be holding monthly mentor gathering circles for the adults to come together and practice doing our own work together. In July we will have our next mentors circle, and we will continue to hold this as a monthly space throughout the year. During the school year these circles will most likely function as a useful space for the folks who sit in our School-Based Mentoring circles to ask for support and to share strategies with each other. Regardless, we want to begin now to honor and practice doing our own regular circle work with one another, for those who are interested and willing.
You may have noticed that at BTMT we are revamping our digital presence. We've taken advantage of these summer months to begin a rebuild on our website--which is still under construction! But we are excited to about making it a more streamlined and functional space for our many users. While it's always been a hub for information about our operation and for donating money to our good cause (I encourage you to try that feature out when you get a chance), our aim is, over time, to turn it into a major resource for our mentors, schools, and boys. It's still a work in progress but we want to thank the many folks who have volunteered both expertise and opinions in this overhaul!
In order to point you towards our other most recent digital development, I want to recommend that each one of you stop reading this email while you open up your instagram app, and go to our page--now hit follow. Great work. Our fresh new IG page is truly our on the ground newsletter for the modern era for folks who want to keep up with everything we are doing. Filled with regular uplifting content about mentorship, our IG also features fantastic content from our boys! We really want to invite our base of supporters to please follow and engage with our page! Having an active page is also a great way to solicit funding and mentors from the community.
Check out this video in which one of our boys shares his story about what BTMT has meant to him.
As always, I want to close this update by highlighting some support opportunities--both those that have already been accomplished, and those that are pending. We depend on your support in order to keep this work moving forward.
Just this past month, one of our stakeholders got word that the Head Start program in town was looking to donate a used bus to a worthy non-profit. She sent me an email about the opportunity and within 30 minutes I had sent a full blown proposal and request for the bus. Well, guess what? BTMT now has a 2001 14-passenger van with only 31k miles on it! For folks in the know, transportation is the major barrier for most of our boys when it comes to participating in our outings and challenge adventure weekends. This donation transforms our capacity to show up for the boys, and it came from one of you keeping our critical mission in mind as an opportunity came across your desk! While we are still working to operationalize this critical donation, it's a great example of what we can do when we are all committed to moving this mission forward. Another stakeholder just this week put me in contact with a local grocer who wants to sponsor meals for our upcoming adventure outings. Consider these stories your personal invitation to be on the lookout!
There are two other opportunities coming up to support our work. First, on August 17th, we intend to host our next Mentor Facilitation Training, Level-1 (MFT-1). We have big goals for the next year to expand our mentorship work in Southern Arizona, with a robust fall calendar of mentorship events, new schools, adventure outings, and challenge adventure weekends. Opportunities for growth are pouring in, but in order to accomplish any of these goals we will first and foremost need willing men. Are you connected to any men who would be willing to show up for the boys in Southern AZ? Considering sharing our web page with them on men's role in showing up for boys. If they seem interested, invite them to attend the MFT-1 in August.
Second, we have an opportunity to partner with the University of Arizona Athletics Department and the University President's Office to host this year's 3rd annual Community Conversation About Boys in November. We intend to take advantage of their generous support this year in order to spread critical awareness about the need for mentorship in our community, to share the vital mission of BTMT, and to raise much needed money to fund our work. As a part of this awesome fundraising event, there will be a silent auction, which is where you all can come in. We are currently scouring the community for items, services--you name it. This event will represent a major milestone in reaching our 2019 annual operating budget. I invite each of you to consider what you can access in your own personal and professional networks in order to help us build up a great list of items available for this silent auction.
Finally, we say a big thank you to all of our supporters for your relentless investment in our mission. As we pass through these dog-days of summer, we recognize that so many of you have hung tough and given so much, enduring the heat that won't quit, trusting that on the other side of all of your good work, much needed rains were on their way. We continue to stand with you in faith and thanks for these present monsoons, and for the ones to come.