January is National Mentor Month, and in honor of these amazing volunteers, we will be sharing some amazing personal mentor stories. Right now, over 20 kids throughout our programs are matched with a mentor--someone with whom they are building trust, developing their social skills and making special memories with. Our mentors often become a vital part of a child and family’s support team--providing comfort, advocacy and encouragement to them, helping them to heal and reach their goals while in care. Mentors play a unique role for our children, providing them a critical sense of connectedness with an adult who is happily investing their time in them for no other reason besides just wanting to.
Please enjoy this first mentor story from one of our former employees; meet Cassie.
The young woman I now mentor was originally a client I worked with when I was a Rehabilitation Specialist at Family Care Network. I worked with her and her family between six and nine hours a week when they received family support services through FNCI’s Wraparound program. During all of our time together, we developed a pretty strong bond. When I decided to move out of the area and could no longer work with FCNI, my client and I talked about how we could maintain our relationship that we had built. The client asked her team if I could become her volunteer mentor. That Spring, shortly after relocating to a different county, I became her mentor. I now drive down to visit her at least once or twice a month.
At first, the transition from being her Rehabilitation Specialist to her Mentor was hard; partly because I was used to serving in a more clinical and professional role. I had to learn that the mentoring relationship is much more personal and casual. After some time and patience, we found our new groove with one another, and now I feel like an older friend to her, someone she trusts and can call up anytime she needs to talk. She often calls me to ask a quick question but it will inevitably turn into a forty-five minute conversation. I’m so glad that we have been able to continue our relationship because I see so much value in this amazing young woman and I can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes in her life; I want to be there for her through it all.
Whenever I come down to San Luis Obispo, my mentee and I usually spend an entire day together, sometimes spending the day at the beach or going on a day trip or having a spa day. During one recent visit, we decided to explore the coast and she ended up showing me this beautiful cove that I never knew existed! (See the blog cover photo to see a picture we took of the cove.)
Over the course of our relationship, I’ve seen my mentee blossom and grow so much. She’s been achieving so many of her goals and continues to strive for new ones despite the many obstacles she faces. She has a goal to continue her education and I want to be there to support her efforts as much as I can. I feel like our relationship, as simple as it may appear, has helped ground her and has given her more confidence. Even after our year of mentorship ends, I know we will continue our friendship for many years to come.
If you are interested in learning about mentoring opportunities as FCNI, please visit our website at FCNI.org/be-the-difference.