Mentoring with the Family Care Network has been an amazing experience; so much so that I can’t imagine stopping even though my one year commitment is complete. When I first decided to volunteer with children, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I knew I liked kids, but was afraid that they wouldn’t like me. And I had no idea if I could legitimately be called a patient or flexible person. But after mentoring a 14 year old girl for 12 months, I feel like I’ve learned a ton, especially about who I am as a person.
When I first met my mentee, Jessie, it took me a little while to re-learn how to interact with someone her age. I had originally intended on activities like crafts or going to the park, but I quickly found out that the best way to interact with a teenage girl is to talk about her friends and interests. I should explain that Jessie is my exact opposite. While I’m an outgoing tomboy, she’s a shy, very feminine girl who loves texting, talking and interacting with her friends. I had to relearn/re-find my inner “girlie-girl.” But once I did, we were able to become fast friends.
The fun thing about mentoring is you get to see your mentee in a wide variety of venues. From riding go-karts to getting manicures, I learned a lot about her and about myself. Our relationship bloomed slowly but that almost made it even more special; it takes time to develop lasting friendships, so why would a mentoring relationship be any different? In the last few months, I’ve noticed how easy it is to have conversations with her. We have inside jokes and code words, and I look forward to seeing her or hearing from her throughout the week. Jessie brings a lot of joy and adventure to my life, as she’s always game to do anything, experience everything, and it makes me a more open person as well.
I can now say with confidence that I am a very flexible, patient and open-minded individual who has learned a lot but, more importantly, I’ve been rewarded with a great friend. FCNI has been a great support to me throughout this journey, making my entire mentoring experience positive and one I would highly recommend.
If you are interested in learning more about mentoring, and want to talk to an FCNI staff member for more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 805-470-9019.