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The idea and concept of mentoring is an ancient one, with roots as far back as ancient times. The original Mentor was described by Homer as the "wise and trusted counselor" whom Odysseus left in charge of his household during his travels. Athena, in the guise of Mentor, became the guardian and teacher of Odysseus' son Telemachus.

Today, the concept of mentoring has found application in virtually every forum of learning. In academics, a mentor is often used interchangeably with "faculty adviser". In today's context however, a mentoring relationship usually develops over an extended period of time, during which the individual's needs and the nature of the relationship tends to change. A positive mentoring experience means that the mentor will try to be aware of these changes and vary the degree and type of attention, help, advice, information, and encouragement that he or she provides.

In the "human" and social services sector, the word mentor is often associated with formal programs and most commonly thought of in terms of youth programming. However, mentoring programs and services exist in many forms and for a wide variety of people: seniors, New Canadians and Immigrants, youth, employees, students, and virtually anyone who would benefit from the guidance and support of a person who can provide skills and or support that encourages the personal growth of that individual.

In short, the act of mentoring is one of adviser, teacher, role model and friend and can exist in both a formal setting and an informal one. When one is "matched" through some sort of process and or organizational structure, this is seen as formal mentoring, when a mentor and one in need of mentoring find each other and develop their own relationship, this is defined as "informal" mentoring. The Peel Mentoring Network encourages all forms of mentoring and believes it has positive outcomes for everyone involved.

Trillium Foundation