Be the One

The ethos of the Be the One movement is simple: Everyone, regardless of their place in life or their outward behavior, could use someone to lean on in times of need, and can simultaneously serve in that role for others as well. 

Advocates of that idea, like Jaydn McCune, say that one of the organic ways people can overcome traumatic experiences is through healthy mutual relationships, something that the Be the One campaign aims to foster across all types of demographic lines. McCune currently works as the facilitator of the Collaborative Solutions Network at the Rackers Center in Ithaca, and has played a large role in organizing Be the One’s presence in Tompkins County. 

The campaign officially starts with a launch event on Dec. 10, when  Be the One advocates will gather in the Space @ GreenStar and invite the community to come out and help brainstorm ideas to bridge mentorship gaps and opportunity lapses in the hopes of facilitating supportive relationships for as many people as possible. The event includes food and several local related organizations will be tabling at the event to show participants more ways to get involved with mentorship opportunities. 

The idea to pick up the Be the One mantle was born earlier this year, in April, when several non-profits throughout the region gathered to organize their annual collaborative event to highlight Mental Health Month in May. This year, Be the One was chosen, fueled by the thought that having a “safe, supportive, mentoring relationship” is essential to healthy and happy lives, particularly if someone is overcoming a traumatic experience that could cause chronic stress. 

“It comes out of a lot of the work that’s been done about trauma and resiliency,” McCune said. “We’re coming to understand the neuroscience behind how we heal from trauma and chronic stress, and the one most potent factor is having caring and supportive relationships. When communities are able to create that, they create resilient communities where people are happier and healthier.”

McCune said the response in the community has been very positive, and has helped encourage them to keep working with this specific message. Using a grant they received in August, McCune said they are currently targeting schools and faith organizations with the Be the One message, and will subsequently move on to community organizations during the second phase. The rest is undefined yet, though McCune said they’re aspiring to work with businesses and other community groups as well. 

“Imagine if we were all connected in a significant and meaningful way to each other, not just on Facebook and social media and on our phones, but face to face—a real relationship with each other,” McCune said. “We have this big launch event at GreenStar on Dec. 10 that’s going to be a really exciting way to bring everybody together and envision all the ways that we can bring this message to life.”

Someone’s Be the One mentor can take basically any form, whether it be a friend, relative, pastor or, also somewhat commonly, a favorite teacher in school. McCune’s intention, she said, is to encourage and empower people to use the time and resources they have for the benefit of others, without necessarily being able to receive any type of material compensation for their efforts. One example is a young girl McCune knows who walks about two miles to school every morning; in Mccune’s mind, there must be someone out there who has a car and some time in the morning to give her a ride to school, a person who values the need for access to education at a young age. 

The commitment to a relationship need not be a years-long contract, McCune said, and representing it that way means more people are interested in participating. It can be a “small project or some way they can connect,” she said, as long as some form of relationship is formed in a healthy way that is also feasible for all parties involved. 

“The goal is to create more informal and formal mentoring opportunities in our county,” McCune said. “Across intergenerational divides, across cultural divides, to create ways for people to have meaningful relationships with each other over time.”

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