N E W S L E T T E R        Winter  2020

Director's Message
Dear Friends of DSABC,

This January commemorated the 18th annual National Mentoring Month, a campaign launched by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. Each year, DSABC participates in this campaign designed to recognize the commitment of our mentors, the lasting impact they have on Danbury Public School students and highlight the importance of connecting Danbury's students with positive adult role models. 
In appreciation for everything our volunteers do for the school community, DSABC hosted a luncheon and workshop on January 27th. The luncheon provided mentors with the opportunity to meet up with each other and enjoy delicious food provided by the talented culinary students at Henry Abbott Regional Technical School. Our workshop presenter, Elizabeth Cotter, emphasized that a relationship or connection with a mentor can help foster resiliency in youth. DSABC is continuously reminded of the enduring value of the connections made through our program. One of our long-time mentors shared a heartwarming message she received from the young lady she began mentoring in 2007. Her former mentee wrote, "Just wanted to say thank you for having such a positive impact on me growing up. I never realized how much you have helped until recently which is I wanted to reach out. I struggled a lot growing up and having you there to guide me made things so much easier. Thank you for being you and being by my side for 5 years." Just one of many reasons why our mentors do what they do.

In closing, I would also like to cordially invite you to our third annual Evening of Wine & Food Tasting on Friday, April 24th. Please join us for a fun evening with friends and supporters of DSABC. We are so thankful for your continued support and dedication!

Kind regards,


Ellen Meyst
DSABC Executive Director
DSABC mentor luncheon focuses on building 
resiliency through connection

By Robin Provey

Today's students are often under a lot of pressure for which they aren't always prepared to cope. From getting on a school bus to taking an important test, these events can serve as anxiety triggers depending on the student and past traumatic experiences.

At the annual Danbury Schools and Business Collaborative (DSABC) annual mentor month luncheon held Jan. 27 at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury, DSABC mentors learned about signs of resiliency and how to recognize when a student is reacting from trauma and how to get help. Lunch was prepared and served by students in Abbott Tech's culinary program and served in the newly renovated Thyme CafĂ©. 

Keynote speaker Elizabeth Cotter, clinical director at Danbury Youth Services, a non-profit agency that provides services to 400 youths annually including a variety of intervention/prevention and positive youth development programs, said that trauma affects everyone differently. Some people become stronger from trauma, while it presents complications for others.

"The most important thing is to be there for them," Cotter said. "You don't need to always give advice - just listen. It says that, in this moment, I am here for you. It shows you how therapeutic this relationship is."

Cotter said that DSABC is one of the best mentoring programs she's seen: "You have the most invested mentors."

Explaining that trauma can cause changes in the brain and result in social, emotional and cognitive impairment, Cotter said that multiple traumatic experiences raise the risk of negative manifestations, including substance abuse and obesity.

"This is a chance to change things. Damage from trauma is hard to fix but not impossible," Cotter said. Mentors, she added, are an extra layer in the system and those healthy interactions play a huge role in helping students overcome adversity.

The "7 C's of Resilience" were outlined as part of how mentors can help students: competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control. For instance, mentors can help just by showing up, providing a connection that increases a student's sense of belonging. Providing a sense of right and wrong and showing a commitment to integrity helps students develop integrity.

"These relationships help foster resiliency," Cotter said. "Kids live 'up' or 'down' to our expectations." She encouraged mentors to be positive and focus on listening.

Although signs that a child is experiencing trauma or has been negatively impacted by past events can vary, Cotter said to look for a fight or flight response in younger children or behavior that seems as though they are shutting down. Unresponsive children or children who appear to be daydreaming or not listening may appear to be disrespectful, but it may be they simply can't process what's happening because they are suffering the effects of trauma.

Adolescents, on the other hand, can exhibit self-injurious behaviors, lack of attachment, school avoidance, substance use, eating disorders, suicidal ideation and the inability to distinguish danger cues.

"That's what you help them with," Cotter said, "to teach them about healthy boundaries and relationships. A kid who is saying it is a kid we can help. That saves lives." 

 Thank Your Mentor Day
Students wrote thank you notes to express their gratitude.  Spending time, always being there, playing games, having lunch together, asking me how my day was, for always coming - small things make a big difference. 

Please  Join Us

As DSABC celebrates 30 years of mentoring make a difference, we hope that you will join us for an evening with  friends, colleagues and supporters of DSABC.  

Friday, April 24th - 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Anthony's Lake Club - 10 Christopher Columbus Avenue in Danbury
Sponsored by Stew Leonard's Wines & Spirits of Danbury

 Save the Dates
2020 Annual Scholarship & Awards Breakfast
Thursday, May 21st

Steel & Wheels Car Show
Proceeds to benefit DSABC!

Thank You to our Donors 
Pitney Bowes Foundation
Union Savings Bank Foundation
UTC Aerospace Systems
DSABC  raised $826 on  Giving Tuesday 

Thank you to our 2019 #GivingTuesday donors!  Your generosity will assist DSABC in continuing our mission of helping Danbury Public School students achieve personal and academic success through our mentoring and scholarship programs.  We are grateful for your support.

Sarah Bollert
Michael Ferguson
Tracey Kurjiaka
Corey Pullen
Cartus Mentoring Team
Karah Greenfield
Courtney LeBorious
Jen Tomaino
Maureen Decker
Elizabeth Kennedy
Ellen Meyst

Mentor Spotlight
 'I did make an impact," says DSABC mentor
By Robin Provey

For three years, Farley Santos served as a mentor in the Danbury Student and Business Connection (DSABC) and met with high school student Dylan McIlveen once a week to talk, give advice, but mostly just to listen. Santos said the experience was a positive one, but he often wondered if he had made a difference in Dylan's life. 

It wasn't until Dylan graduated from Henry Abbott Technical High School in 2015, that Santos realized that his positive influence and commitment had helped change Dylan's life for the better.

"When Dylan graduated he gave me a plaque that read: 'World's Best Friend and Mentor' with his name and year. It hangs in my office with a photo of us at the DSABC breakfast," Santos said. "That's my proudest moment. This was more than I thought it was. I did make an impact."

Dylan first participated in a mentoring program as a first grader in New Milford schools. A brief move with his family to New York left him without a mentor for a few years. When he returned to the Danbury area, he was able to connect with DSABC and eventually he met Santos.

Santos remembers mentors coming to school when he was a student, but he never had the opportunity to have one. Santos, who served on the Danbury Board of Education and now sits on the City Council, thought about mentoring a lot, but it wasn't until he worked at Savings Bank of Danbury that he was inspired by a colleague; SBD also encourages employees to participate in community outreach. 

"I thought it would be a noble thing to make an impact on a young person. It's a way to be a role model, and I'm grateful they allow us to do this," Santos said. "Since it was my first time mentoring, I didn't know what to expect. We met in the library and would just talk. I shared my experiences when I was a student at Abbott."

Dylan, who now lives in Torrington and is working full time, said his first impression of Santos was that he was nice.

"It's always weird meeting mentors," Dylan said. "After a while it was like talking to another friend. I tend to ball up everything and then get to the point where it breaks, and I shut down. Having a mentor, you can vent about things. It's nice to have an outsider's view who doesn't know your family and talks without taking someone's side. After a while, you're just friends." 

Dylan said he didn't even mind that there was some stigma attached to his having a mentor. After a while, other students were somewhat envious and even joined in his meetings with Santos.

Dylan's longtime friend from high school, Chris Nelson, said he thinks having a mentor was the best thing for his friend.

"When he came back he was a lot more happy," Nelson said. "It's impacted him in a positive way. It's good that Dylan has someone like Farley."

Dylan said the best part of his DSABC experience is that he made a lifelong friend. Because he had to communicate with Santos through his school's social worker, he said graduation was a liberating moment for him and his mentor.

"We became friends on Facebook. We were outside of the program friends now," Dylan said. The two men meet once or twice a year now, but they keep in touch on social media and by texting. 

While Dylan doesn't yet mentor because he's busy establishing himself on a career path, he likes to be a friend whenever he sees someone in need. 

"It takes time to get to know a person and most people don't take the time," said Dylan.

Santos said sometimes meeting someone new, especially a student who may have difficulty expressing himself or herself, can be awkward, but he advises new mentors to be patient, and most importantly, just be there.

"You have to give it time," Santos said. "It allowed me to view the world through different eyes. Life is different for everybody. Lower your expectations, it's not immediate. At the end you realize you've been a positive influence the whole time."
Welcome New Mentors 

DSABC One-on-One Mentoring Program 

Rochelle Abalos - Savings Bank of Danbury
Sal Agosta - Independent
Marilyn Ahearn - Independent
Ciara Lubus - Cartus
Sushma Panthi - Linde
Patricia Pires - Independent
Sharon Rabau - Independent
Ann Marie Rosa - Independent
Patricia Thompkins - Cartus
Charu Upadhyay - Independent

Danbury High School DECO students prepare for workplace, 
meet mentors at meet and greet

By Brendan Dyer

Danbury High School students in the Danbury Early College Opportunity (DECO) program met with their mentors at a Meet-and-Greet session on Jan. 31 at the school. Students have worked online with mentors throughout the school year completing written assignments and participating in discussions. These exercises are a way to prepare high school students for college and the workplace, and offer them the opportunity to earn college credits. 

Hannah Hodgdon, a senior at Danbury High School, is one student who took full advantage of DECO's offerings. Hannah has been with the program since she was a freshman. Now a senior, she mentors incoming students. She will graduate from DHS this year with an Associate Degree from Naugatuck Valley Community College. 

"Students in this program are very engaged in their futures," said DECO mentor Robert Cordery, a visiting assistant professor of physics at Fairfield University. Cordery says students are able to get specific about their goals and learn what it's like in the working world.

Robert Cordery has been a DECO mentor 
for several years.

Mentor Anders Drew collaborates with his students and Dr. Sarah Roy coordinates the DECO program.

Mentor Training
Growth Mindset Toolkit for Mentors
 17 self-guided lessons 
Approximate completion time: 60 minutes

Developed in collaboration with MENTOR.  This toolkit can help mentors understand growth mindset and how to apply growth mindset strategies to many of the challenges that youth and adults face in life.   
Board News 
Welcome new Board Members
Dilenia Gonzalez, World Languages Teacher, Danbury High School
Amy Spallino, Danbury Board of Education 
Throwback to 2010
Celebrating DSABC's 20th Anniversary at the Annual Breakfast

School Calendar Watch

11 - One Hour Early Release
17 - Presidents' Day - Schools Closed
25 - One Hour Early Release
17 - One Hour Early Release
31 - One Hour Early Release

10 - Good Friday - Schools Closed
13 - 17 Spring Recess
28 - One Hour Early Release

We want to hear from YOU!
We are looking for mentors to include in our Mentor Spotlight series - please let us know if you would be interested in sharing your story!  In order to make our newsletter as relevant and interesting as possible, we need YOUR input for future publications.   Share your mentoring stories, tell us why you became a mentor or let us know how your company supports mentoring.   Email contributions to  meyste@danbury.k12.ct.us. 

Our mission is to build the character and confidence of Danbury Students to achieve personal and academic success through business and community partnership.

DSABC is a 501 (c) 3 Charitable Organization. Please consider supporting our mentoring and scholarship programs.