Being a mentor to anyone is not easy but being a mentor to a child or youth who’ve experienced trauma and/or instability, can be especially difficult. Fulfilling this important role for a child or youth who is healing from various hurts such as neglect, abuse or unmet mental health needs takes a lot of patience, commitment, empathy, good humor, compassion, creativity and, last but not least, time. Is it any wonder that we as a nation dedicate an entire month to celebrate the role of mentoring and those who choose to mentor? Here at FCNI, we know that our Mentors are volunteer heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those we serve by doing the hard work of showing up again and again and again. Our Mentors show up even when it isn’t easy, when the difference they’re making isn’t visible or seemingly even possible, and when they have other things in their own lives that are demanding their attention. To all of these mentors--past and present--thank you for choosing to take on such a critical relationship.
Our mentors come in all ages and each one serves their mentee differently. But what they all share is the firm belief that everyone deserves one person to be for them, to listen to them and to be there for them. The following perspective was recently shared with us by one of these mentors, and it perfectly captures why we think our mentors are so amazing.
My experience as a mentor has been very humbling. My mentee has so much potential, and tries to grow past what she’s known her entire life, even though she struggles. I hope that the time we spend together will be a nice reminder for her later on in her life when things get challenging; a place to reference that has been different from her other relationships. I have two favorite memories that I’d like to share, both of them were dreams come true.
One of my favorite times with my mentee was taking her horseback riding for her birthday. She’s wanted to ride a horse since she was a little girl. We had a great time riding through the hills, learning how to kick to go faster, and pull the reins to slow down or direct. The place we went to ride had several animals on the property and we got to walk around and pet all the horses, pigs, and goats. She was fearless, while I’m terrified of horses. It was a great experience for me, though, as it allowed me an opportunity to move past my fear. On the way home, she said, “Thank you. I don’t think there’s anyone else in my life who would do something like this for me.” I felt so blessed to be able to show her that she’s deserving of great things, and I hope that truth stays with her in difficult times.
My other favorite memory is when I was invited to attend my mentee’s high school graduation. She was so proud of herself for graduating. Prior to being served through Family Care Network, I don’t think she thought she’d ever graduate. Watching her cross that stage with the biggest smile on her face, and getting to put a handmade lei around her neck afterward with tears in her eyes is something I will always remember. I wanted to shout, “You did it! You can do anything!”
I definitely left some visits with my mentee in tears, my emotions getting the best of me. I wanted her to know how strong she is, and that what she’d been told and shown her entire life about herself isn’t the truth. The big moments we shared were great, but I think there’s just as much magic in all the little moments we shared. Just showing up, showing you care, keeping your word, listening, and giving words of encouragement are enough to make a difference in a youth’s life. While my year commitment with my mentee has come to an end, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know her and share in her life, and I hope that it’s made a difference for her like it has for me.
To talk to someone about becoming a mentor, please give us a call at 805-503-6223 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.