For Valentine's Day this year, Yoko and I wanted to give a token of our appreciation towards a local organization that we believe is doing great work in the Bay Area. We decided on the Be A Mentor program, a non-for-profit, 501(c)3 that matches adult mentors with at-risk youth across the bay.
Starting February 7-14, Umami Mart will donate 10% of all sales to Be-A-Mentor. We are personally committed and believe in this as Yoko (Umami Mart Co-Founder) has been a mentor within the program for the past few years.
I asked Yoko why she decided to become a mentor, and why she particularly chose the Be A Mentor program. Here's what she said:
There are two things that inspired me to become a mentor. The first reason is because of a good friend from college. She had a mentor growing up as a recent immigrant in the 1990s. As an adult, my friend continues to take weekend trips with her mentor and always checks in with her when she visits her hometown or needs advice about a new job or move. Listening to my friend's stories, I felt like I could have really used a mentor in my life.
The second reason for becoming a mentor had to do with timing. It was the fall of 2016 when I started thinking about what I could do for my community. The political atmosphere was disheartening, and I felt compelled to do something, anything, especially for girls. This led me to the idea of mentorship, so I started to look for opportunities to mentor a child.
It was important to me that I kept it local. Be A Mentor was an organization I chose because they are based in the East Bay and connected people who live in Oakland to students in Oakland. Be A Mentor provides mentees with training and guidance that help volunteers be effective and responsible mentors. I have benefited greatly from the support and guidance of this non-profit and am forever grateful that they connected me to a nine-year old girl (as of 2016) from East Oakland who is a little shy, likes to read, and dance her heart out. I am proud to be her mentor for over two years and hope that I enrich her life for the fraction of the amount that she enriches mine.
Oakland is our home and our Umami Mart community gives us so much. We are proud to raise funds for this important organization, and hope you will help us by shopping this week through next Thursday 2/14! Thank you for your support!