Restoration Project Foundation (RPF) is thrilled to introduce Spotlight, a monthly feature dedicated to shining a light on our organization’s leaders and mentor partners doing incredible work in communities across the state of South Carolina. For our inaugural April Spotlight, we are pleased to highlight Restoration Project Foundation Executive Director Matt Bailey, a true servant leader who strives to live his life “in a way that is about helping develop other people and give back to them.”
An experienced non-profit executive devoted to making a difference in the lives of kids, Matt joined RPF in July 2021. Our organization takes a unique approach to fostering mentor-mentee relationships by partnering with existing mentorship programs to provide guidance, support, and resources so each site can fulfill its individual mission based on the unique needs of the local community. As Executive Director, Matt works directly with our nine mentor partners to ensure that RPF is providing the financial support, relational connections, volunteers, and donations they need so they can focus directly on the kids. “I love to help and to serve, and in this role, I really get to do both and be that connection point for our mentor partners,” said Matt.
Matt first experienced the positive power of mentorship in college, where an older friend took him under his wing. “He made sure I showed up for class and practice on time, and taught me to be consistent in the things I said and did.” The relationship showed him the importance of helping others to succeed, and inspired him to seek out opportunities to give back and serve as a mentor. “We can be a river, or we can be a reservoir,” he recently said. “A river is where things flow through you, it is life-giving, moving, full of fresh water and life. A reservoir has mosquitos, it is moldy, with the water just sitting there, becoming stagnant. I think the more we are receiving and giving out and things are flowing through us, the healthier things are. I think we get into trouble when we just try to collect and hold on to things, not giving good back out into the world.”
Supporting our mentor partners provides ample opportunities for Matt to give good back out into the world and inspire a new generation of young mentors. These organizations provide a structured environment where kids are able to be carefree and act like kids, while having the security of trusted adults who provide boundaries and direction. Matt describes them as “safe spaces for kids,” and places where “they don’t have to put on a certain persona, they don’t have to pretend, they can just truly be who they are and accepted for who they are. They have adults around them to encourage them, to keep them on the right path, and to have the hard conversations when needed.”
Just as his college mentor taught him the importance of being consistent in words and actions, Matt focuses on consistency as one of the most important factors for success. The more consistent mentors can be, the deeper the impact the relationship can have on a mentee. “Sometimes it is like the kids have the weight of the world on them, and they are often left to fend for themselves in a lot of ways. Having the opportunity to build trust and know that the mentors are always going to be there for them can be life-changing,” said Matt.
Matt’s advice to people interested in mentoring? “Jump in and get involved! You can always start with a smaller commitment, like making a meal for the kids each week or helping out at an event, then grow into a larger mentorship role.” RPF’s mentor partner sites pair new volunteers with seasoned mentors who can provide the guidance and support new mentors need as they grow and transition into the role of a primary mentor. If you are interested in getting involved, RPF will work with you directly to connect with a mentor site near you. To learn more about how you can get involved, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.