Winning Futures: Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Succeed

August 2009 Mentor Michigan E-newsletter Story Spotlight Winning Futures, based in Southeast Michigan, is a unique mentoring program that creates teams of youth and a mentor that meet weekly at school to discuss job readiness skills, educational and career goal setting, and a five-year plan for success.  Many of the program's mentors have been engaged for several years, including Dave Fernholz.


Dave has been mentoring with Winning Futures for the past 11 years, after a recommendation from his boss, Mike Fitzpatrick (2009 Governor's Service Awards Mentor of the Year Finalist).  Since that time, Dave has mentored nearly 75 students as each semester he's been matched with three high-school aged youth. 


He sees the students one day each week and maintains further communication with bi-monthly letters as well.  During his weekly visits Dave discusses life experiences he has gained while working at Fitzpatrick Manufacturing for the past 30 years, and the significance of the values encouraged by Winning Futures, i.e. life skills, goal setting, and strategic planning.


He also engages his mentees in professional development opportunities - inviting them to participate in job shadowing, taking tours of Fitzpatrick Manufacturing, and discussing career aspirations.


Over the past 11 years Dave has impacted many of the students he has mentored, supported, and encouraged.  But he's quick to point out that not all them have seen the same level of growth.


"There are some kids that simply will not connect - they are not ready for it," Dave says.  "But I really enjoy mentoring; it's my gift to the community.  Some of the kids I see and mentor have a tough life, and Winning Futures helps them through it."


Either way, Dave believes Winning Futures, and mentoring in general, is important to youth in our communities throughout Michigan.


"I fully believe the adult mentor learns as much as the student," he says.  "After 11 years of being a mentor, I can think of nothing better to do to help the community."