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    JOHNTJ1   66,777
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It Was Just An Idea..............

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Yesterday morning, after breakfast, I was scrolling through my many Spark friends and I noticed a lot of them had not been active here at Spark for over a year in some cases. Their last status update almost read like a cry for help in many cases. The simple “I have to get back on track,” or “Starting over again,” or “I need help and support” were their last communications. None were long term members. They fell by the wayside and I started wondering why.

Then………… lol……………..I had an idea.

What if there was some sort of mentoring program for people who were new to this journey, people who got stuck along the way and people who reached their goals and objectives and were living a new life style that may have been alien to them just a short while ago. It would serve dual purposes. It might be the difference in a new member staying or leaving. Everyone is not like you and I. Everyone doesn’t look for help and guidance and often the shy or reticent person will go away rather than reach out. What if you received a Spark Mail your first week offering a bit of mentoring? Someone that’s been there and done that. I sat and wondered how many people it would have a positive effect on. I know what you may be thinking: Some people are going to leave regardless. But………… some people would stay also.

Tell me what you think. The idea is embryonic at best right now. Is is doable and do you have any suggestions or thoughts that might help it be successful. Please feel free to be honest. If you think the idea sucks big time, let me know.

It was just an idea, lol
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CM_GARDNER78 4/11/2012 11:36PM

    I do think it's great, but as someone who was a leader for a weekly class (people who are new to the site) you can only do SO MUCH. The recipient still has to make the effort too.

BUT - I AM with you on the fact that, yes most may still go...........but some will not. I am 100% for getting that one to stay, when they otherwise wouldn't! :-)

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TRUETOU 4/11/2012 11:27PM

    Great idea...i'd like one right now.

I've been on ediets and they have a mentor for the first month but i was disappointed cuz they were kind of hit and miss.

i think the mentors need to be there for u.

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BOURBONIAN 4/11/2012 11:20PM

    It's a great idea. I actually have noticed that myself and I'm pretty new, and have reached out to some folks either by SparkPage or via SparkMail. Whether there's a plan in place we can certainly do it ourselves!

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CSHULLCSHELLS 4/11/2012 10:57PM

    This is a fantastic idea! I have a friend in recovery with AA. I have often thought about the similarities between the Spark approach and the 12 steps -- right down to helping others get the "spark." What you are suggesting is a lot like having a "sponsor" -- an invaluable part of the AA program. I think it would also help alleviate the lack of a real meeting at SparkPeople. I know that they have tried to simulate "virtual" meetings on the site, but I am just not a virtual person. Having some one-on-one communication with a person you can relate to would go far in helping to feel like you aren't alone. I'm in. Where do we vote?

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2RUTHIE 4/11/2012 10:50PM

    GREAT IDEA! I am still in the infatuation stage with Sparkpeople. I like any communicating ideas.

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XTINEMAS 4/11/2012 10:17PM

    An awesome idea!


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BROWNER2011 4/11/2012 10:10PM

    Hi I think it's a great ideal. I have only been on this site a couple months and still don't really know how to use all it have to offer. I believe with a mentor I would know how to use more of what it have to offer, because Im not good at using the computer and to have someone to walk me through the site would be great.

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CAYCESMOM 4/11/2012 9:50PM

    I think that is a fabulous idea!!

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SWANATOPIA 4/11/2012 9:48PM

    I have only been on Spark People for one in a half months and I tend to reach out to bloggers (such as you) for motivation. If I had a real "live" mentor to go to and could ask questions..... that would be awesome! From using the site to what kind of shoes are the best for running...I had many questions! There was a day or two that I needed a lift but luckily, I found it in a certain blog! I think it's a great idea! Maybe you can start a mentor club or something and people can pair off or "adopt" new people that join the club! One mentor per group.



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DESERTFLOWERG 4/11/2012 9:37PM

    I think this will benefit not just the novice, but also the mentor. Great idea!

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NIFERANDERSON 4/11/2012 8:25PM

    I think the verdict is in! It's officially a good idea.

I also see that some groups are friendlier than others, which is natural with a site of this magnitude. I especially like my SP Class of March 18-24, which does offer some mentoring. Once a person finds his or her niche group to keep up with on a personal level, I think that it's easier to keep on track.

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JERZEYFRESH 4/11/2012 8:13PM

    Great idea, especially for the person who is reluctant to just start "friending" other members, like me - I always feel like I'm intruding or being pushy if I am the one to initiate the contact. I like it!! emoticon

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LUPIESUZ 4/11/2012 7:56PM

    I think it is a great idea! I just started I. January and I just need some friends to encourage me. Spark mail or something. I don't have many friends and need that. My husband tries. He is even exercising with me! But not as he must do it. I must do it and take care of me, as I have lupus and need to lose weight so maybe it doesn't get that bad flares.
But yes good idea!

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KIPPER15 4/11/2012 7:51PM

    I have been working this site for a year and would have loved some guidance in the beginning. I still stumble around alot since I have little computer savvy.

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GINNY005 4/11/2012 7:45PM

    I think that is a great idea. I have been using this site since the beginning of this year. In the beginning, I waivered, gave up....but did come back again a few weeks later and I have been successfully losing weight ever since, tho I still have bad days. I find it hard to get involved with the community here. I have posted a blog or two, but I basically stick to my own page, just tracking my food and weight loss. I don't have any 'friends' on here. I think it would be great to have someone to offer help and support, especially in the first few weeks and would also ease the way into the community. I am one of those shy people you referred to and being the first to make contact can be a challenge, particularly when trying to navigate your way around an unfamiliar website and focusing on the changes you are making. Good luck with this idea, I really do hope it takes off.

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SUEOVER200 4/11/2012 7:32PM

    I think its a great idea.

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MAVERICK59 4/11/2012 7:04PM

    Hi.
I did this very thing for several months, I reached out to hundreds of new Spark folks. I really enjoyed doing it. Sort of 'giving back' if you will. Some were very thankful to get the help and short term mentoring if they found the site over whelming. I could do this because the Spark pages tab used to show all new members.

Then for some reason the format was changed and now they keep making the same old 'suggested for you Spark friends' over and over again. Rarely shows new members.
Many of the 'suggested for you' are not active any more either.

I emailed the Spark Gods to ask if it could be changed back but I was told it could not.
But your idea is a very good one.

Comment edited on: 4/11/2012 7:06:57 PM

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MOMMUNYON 4/11/2012 7:02PM

    Great Ideal!

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CLOVER2 4/11/2012 6:48PM

    I think it is a wonderful idea. I have been here since 3/09 but it took a full year before I felt comfortable enough to reach out to others in this environment. As a result I drifted away, put back on most of the weight that I lost and felt pretty drifting. (Does that make sense?) As of now I have only about 10 pounds to go to reach my goal, having done this with the help of some pretty terrific people! I do try to help new folks, the only thing I worry about is overwhelming these newbies, making them feel as though they are being bombarded. Is there a way to figure that part out?

emoticon

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IAMRADIOGEEK 4/11/2012 6:28PM

    This is an awesome idea!

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TRISH261 4/11/2012 6:08PM

    Very good idea. I am also one of the ones who joined years ago, (2007) and have been off and on since then, and I know I wasn't missed at all either because I never had any "friends" on here. I have a couple now that are writing on my blogs almost every day, and now I know, if I go away, I might just be missed by at least one person! :)

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EGALITAIRE 4/11/2012 6:06PM

    Awesome idea - I am not the shy type, but I did take quite a bit of time before I started participating with others on the site - like a year. Not sure exactly how the mentor idea would have worked for me, but if it kept one person from leaving it would be worth it.

I help organizations set up internal mentorship programs so I have a bias that they will work.

I am thinking one way to operationalize the idea is to start a team of people who are offering to be a mentor - the mentors team - anyone who newly arrives on SP can be directed to the mentor team and search for a mentor.

In my experience, getting the a good personality mix is a crucial piece to successful mentorship programs. Often the first partnership doesn't work, or works for awhile and a natural evolution takes place.

John, if you want to take the idea to the next level I will support you in whatever way I can - just let me know how I can assist.

Cheers,

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RKB1954 4/11/2012 6:06PM

  As a new member it might be a good idea. Just starting this website has many areas of help ideas and communication. It is almost overwhelming where to start. I guess my goal is to lose weight and live a higher quality life. Where do I start? Do I need to explore each one? Which is the most relevant?

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MSBELLAB 4/11/2012 6:01PM

    I think this is a marvelous idea. I am new to a lot of things this year including a new state and Sparkpeople. I am very shy and with my severe hearing loss I find it hard to make friends. So this would be very helpful to me.
I too hope the Sparkpeople staff sees this and takes it too heart.

Thank you JohnTJ!

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ADZY86 4/11/2012 5:50PM

    GREAT idea! I think a LOT of people, the majority of people, would seriously benefit from something like this! It's like having a Spark friend dedicated solely to you. I love that. It's what makes Spark...Spark!

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DANCINGMOOGLE 4/11/2012 5:30PM

  That's a great idea! Maybe a team could be founded for that exact purpose.

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39JEANNIE 4/11/2012 5:30PM

    This is an excellent idea. I also had the same idea in mind which is why i reach out to new spark members and encourage the old ones. I think this is the best idea ever. You are so right. Everbody isn't like you and I. Sometimes people are a little shy about asking for help, a buddy or mentor in some cases. Not me, if I need help i'm screaming (SOMEBODY HELP ME). LBVS. For those of you that don't know that lingo it means laughing but very serious. With that in mind....Come on spark memebers let's do this!!!

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YAMAHA49 4/11/2012 4:48PM

    Great idea! This is my second time on Spark and I didn't really feel like I was missed when I dropped out in 2009. Mostly I am sure because I didn't know how to go about really linking up with folks one on one. I've yet to join a team because they are a mystery to me....

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HEALTHIERMAMA57 4/11/2012 4:44PM

    I think it's a great idea! I have been a member for 6 months and find it very difficult to make friends on here. I just can't seem to do it. I joined some teams thinking that would help to "meet" people. Everyone seems to know everyone. I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. The people that have "friended" me are nice, it just seems that because I am a very private person, it is a struggle. I am not computer savvy and that also makes it hard.

I hope this information helps!

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JACFRANK 4/11/2012 4:39PM

    I LOVE this idea. The site allows for some accountability, but I don't feel missed if I don't log on or keep up. I've been on SP since '07 and if I had a "spark buddy" I'd be a lot more consistent & accountable.

Hey - Sparkpeople staff...you gotta read this blog!! :)

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TUBJUMPER 4/11/2012 4:04PM

    Great idea

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SWEDE_SU 4/11/2012 4:03PM

    as a new member (well, newly active - i joined in 2006, but never felt at home), it has made all the difference in the world to me to have two spark friends cheering me on right from the start - they are friends from my professional world whom i have known for years, and whom i have inspired in the past, but now when i need them, they have been there for me. they are my only spark friends, and i have wondered how to make more friends, because though i wander around the SP site a bit, i don't feel comfortable just saying, will you be my friend? i've joined several teams, but people seem to know each other, and i know it takes time, and i'm trying.

but i think your idea of making a friend right from the start would make all the difference to new people who can see that others have friends, have support, and wish that they could too.

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ELPTCLWIZARD 4/11/2012 3:59PM

    Just what sooo many of us need right now! Great Idea!

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CALI_POPPY 4/11/2012 3:29PM

    Great idea! Maybe each active member should go through there friends and reach out to the ones that are not active currently. We could create a National Reach Out day for fellow sparkers. Nothing would have warmed my heart more than to have someone reach out to me when I walked away a few years ago. Sparkpeople is truly a place where we find our strength but you have to come to it...which I guess is part of the process of learning how badly you want something.

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1COUNTRY_GAL 4/11/2012 3:24PM

    You have a brilliant idea here,so many new members or even members that have been here go a stray and need some support and encouragement and will not ask for it.So many new members need help with getting there page set up and are overwhelmed.I try to help as many new members as I have time.My goal is one new member and another I feel may be struggling.It really makes a difference in there life and there success on SP when another comes along to support and gives encouragement,isn't what this site is all about? Team work and atmosphere? Thank you for posting,excellent blog! emoticon Diana

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RETURNTOTHIN 4/11/2012 3:11PM

    Too bad spark can't get them linked to a good team right away, man I'm part of some incredible teams! That is my lifeline!


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TIFFY0906 4/11/2012 3:10PM

    I think this is an awesome idea. As I a nearing my goal, I find that there are some people on my team that look to me for advice on how I got to this point and I am happy to share my struggles and successes. I think to officially be a mentor or have a mentor would be great.

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MAESIELABIRD 4/11/2012 2:21PM

  I think that's a genius idea!! As someone who isn't "new" to SP but a re-joiner, I think that having someone else to help keep me going would be a very good things ideed!

~MaryEllen

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2BUNNYMAMA 4/11/2012 2:13PM

    great idea!! I def could use someone to be accountable to... who will send me an email to check on me...

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KM1116 4/11/2012 2:11PM

    Great read!

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RHEASWEIGH 4/11/2012 1:53PM

    That is a great idea.

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CROWLEY123 4/11/2012 1:48PM

    I think it is a great idea. I would love to help, if I can. I have only been with SP for about 6 months but I do see people come and go a lot, and those that are active are the same small group all the time. It certainly sounds like it would help.


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DR_LARA 4/11/2012 1:48PM

    Great idea! And let's cheer up them right now...

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DDOORN 4/11/2012 1:39PM

    Love the idea and passed this along to our local SparkTeam to encourage more support, sharing and activity among our SparkTeam members.

Thx for all that you do!

Don

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NAMMYOFTHREE 4/11/2012 1:38PM

  I also agree...great idea!


Susie



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BE-THE-CHANGE 4/11/2012 1:34PM

    I like this idea. I know of at least one person who came back because I left a post on her page.

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EMPTRS 4/11/2012 1:28PM

    That sounds like a great plan to help people out, motivate them, and keep them accountable! Great thought!

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JUST2SWEET 4/11/2012 1:23PM

    Sounds like a good idea to me...

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DEEDEE324 4/11/2012 12:48PM

    That is a great idea, I myself try to go to my SP friends list and check in on them to let them know they have someone who cares how they are doing. I look to see who
post something about themselves that might be concerned about staying on track or keeping up with others in the program, then send them a spark goodie to motivate them. There were times when I sent someone a message saying I'm just checking on you to see how you are doing and they responded with " Thank you for checking up on my I was feeling a little down and out and your message and spark goodie help to lift my spirits and now I'm back on track" Its those type of things that help someone in need of support that gets them through the rough times, so yes go right ahead and put the spark back in someone life.

emoticon

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REDDBETSY 4/11/2012 12:46PM

    I am actually a new person, and there was a big push to join teams. I added most of my friends after resonating with something that they posted on the team pages-- I think that the teams are a good resource. I have used and really appreciated the tutorial videos that helped me to figure out all of the trackers. I do think that a small-group mentoring program would be a benefit: like having an AA sponsor. Keeps you honest and involved, and helps you when you need a push in the right direction. Good Ideas, Indeed!

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