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Peer Mentoring

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Why I Love Being a Peer Mentor

~ by Kate Olson

"In my 20s I began to realize I wanted to do more and be more independent.   I had a talk with my mom and she supported my idea of moving out on my own and doing more.  Once I did, it changed my life and made me want to become more independent and help other people with disabilities become more independent, however they want to."  

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What is Peer Mentoring

 

Peer Mentors are people with developmental disabilities who provide guidance, support and resources to help others achieve the life that they want.  Peer Mentors are dedicated to helping others to reach new levels of independence and inclusion in their communities.  They are ready to partner with you and help you advocate for the life that you want and deserve.  

The Peer Mentor Program is based on the philosophy that people learn best from others who have lived experience to share.  That connection of shared experiences and mutual understanding builds a strong foundation for planning for a person's future.  

Who Can Receive Peer Mentoring

People age 16 and over who have a DD waiver can have a Peer Mentor to help them in achieving their goals.  

Through special funding from DBHDS, there are limited spots for people who are on the DD Waiver Waiting List to receive support from a Peer Mentor.

How To Sign Up for a Mentor

FIRST - Complete an interest form to tell us a little more about you and your goals.

SECOND - Choose the right mentor for you.  Get to know the mentors below and then schedule your Consultation with Natasha Cooper to help match you with the right mentor. 

Contact Natasha Cooper

Peer Engagement Director

ncooper@thearcofva.org

804-649-8481 Ext 103

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Talk to Someone Who Has Been Where Your Are

Meet the Mentors

Mentors have received training from The Arc of Virginia and are ready to help. 

Finding the right match is key.  Read the profiles below to learn about the Mentors and decide who can best help you to reach your goals!

Not sure who is the best match?  Contact Natasha Cooper to get help choosing the right match for you.

 

ncooper@thearcofva.org 

804-649-8481 Ext. 103

Matthew Hudgins

City Where I Live: Christianburg

Age: 35

About Me:  My name is Matthew Hudgins, I live in Christiansburg, Virginia. I am here to lend a helping hand to all who need it, no matter who you are or where you come from! If you ever need someone to talk to, I will be there for you. I will treat you as if you were my own family. I have two little Chihuahuas Duke & Poppy and I have raised them since they were puppies.

 

Hobbies & Interests: Fishing, gaming and playing in video game tournaments, acting, computer efficiency and learning how things work.  Working for and building items for Hexed Haunted House, building battle bots, creating YouTube videos. 

Mentor Skills: I am very good at planning ahead of time, I have 18 years of working experience including the food industry and Virginia Tech.

Areas of Expertise: Public Transportation/RideShare, Independent Living

Communication: Verbal Communication

Shawn Kirk

City Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 42

About Me:  I am a person with Autism and a native of Richmond, Virginia. I have many interests and hobbies, one of them is my ability to tinker with computers and help people with their computer problems. Another one is my ability to DJ Events whether they are in person or virtual. I also have a love for all kinds of music, but I have to say my favorite is 70’s Disco. I also enjoy going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Camping in the mountains when I get the chance.  Over the years I have served on several nonprofit boards in many different capacities. Over the years I have taken various classes on becoming a more effective leader and advocate for people with disabilities. One thing I would like for everyone to know is “People with Disabilities Have Many Different Talents and Abilities. Give Us A Chance and We Will Show You All That We Can Do!”

Hobbies & Interests: Music, hosting & DJn parties, camping, beach, education

 

Mentor Skills:  Good listener, Problem Solver, Resourceful (utilize internet), Leader, Advocate

Areas of Expertise: Public Transportation/RideShare, Natural Supports

Computer Troubleshooting, Education, Working & Interview Skills (employed at Panera for over a year and in food service over 15 years), Living Independently in privately owned condo

Communication: Verbal Communication

Brittney Lee

City Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 33

About Me: My name is Brittney Lee, currently I live in Henrico County. I enjoy uplifting people with disabilities and giving them the strength to look within themselves to find their destiny. It provides character to the individual and willpower to overcome any barrier that is challenging in life. For many years I worked in the mental health field to provide services to individuals in need. I take anything I do very seriously and even completed some college business courses. As your mentor I am here to help you find your strength and guide you through your journey.

Hobbies & Interests: I enjoy writing, collecting coins for different states, I like to go shopping and I also enjoy volunteering

Mentor Skills:  Motivating Mentees to do well in areas of interest

 

Areas of Expertise: Exploring and researching personal interests, Self-Advocacy, Navigating Transportation, Indepedent Living.  

Communication: I use words to communicate

 

Other:  I use a wheelchair to commute in the community. I use specialized transportation for transporting and I use words to express myself. 

Rebecca Voskeritchian

City Where I Live: Richmond

Age: 39

About Me: I am a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master's in Social Work.  During my education, I worked in legislative advocacy through an internship in the Virginia General Assembly.  I also completed the Partners in Policymaking program and interned with the Partnership for People with Disabilities.  I am the current chair of Virginia Advocates United Leading Together (VAULT).  I utilize my lived experience to support others with disabilities to live their lives as they choose.  

 

Hobbies & Interests: I consider myself an extrovert who excels in group projects and team environments. I enjoy brainstorming and coming up with ways to “Fight the Man” and I have a deep passion for creating change. Fostering cats & kittens with Richmond SPCA, movies, game nights.

Mentor Skills: Rebecca enjoys using her lived experience as a disabled woman to empower others with disabilities to live the life of their choosing.

 

Areas of Expertise: How you can successfully navigate the community as a wheelchair user. Working with GRTC for community navigation. Navigating Higher Education and Grad School.

 

Communication: Verbal with words

Provider Agencies:

 

Each Peer Mentor works for a Provider Agency who supervises their work and coordinates the services for the mentees, ensuring that everyone has the best experience possible.  Currently there are two provider agencies.

To learn more about these agencies, click on their logo!