Four years ago, I was a bit lost. To help me find my footing again, I embarked on a mentor relationship which truly changed my life. Over the course of our three year relationship, my Mentor became a father figure to me and a very close friend. Growing up in the environment that I did—parents struggling with addiction and homelessness—I wish I had had a mentor to help guide me through these difficult circumstances.
One day, it occurred to me how great it would be to mentor someone; to get to know someone and teach them, or at least be there for them. Maybe I could even mentor someone who has gone through similar life circumstances that I had. Excited by the prospect, I looked into several local organizations and FCNI’s program seemed to be just the right fit—the program’s expectations matched what I wanted to do.
When I first met my mentee with his foster parent and Social Worker, he and I were both a bit nervous. Thankfully, our nerves didn’t matter—we still seemed to click. On our first outing of just him and me, my nerves kicked in again. I wanted him to feel comfortable, so I felt this huge responsibility to get everything right. When we got to our destination—a hike—we ended up just cruising along, getting to know one another, and my nerves finally settled down. We were just two kids throwing rocks in the ocean, exploring tide pools and building rock formations. He seemed at peace with whatever he was going through at the time. It was a very cool experience.
One of the coolest moments between us was something that before mentoring, I wouldn’t have given much thought to. Before I met my mentee, I was told that he wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone. It took about four and half meetings, but all of a sudden I noticed him talking straight at me, looking me right in the eye. It was awesome! To this day, he hasn’t stopped making eye contact with me, and that communicates so much to me about our relationship.
I feel very fortunate to be able to hang out with my mentee, and be there for him through the hard times. Meeting with him also takes me away from my busy, hectic schedule of owning a business, and gives me a chance to recharge and refocus.
I truly feel that mentoring is hugely beneficial for kids and adults. Not one successful person in this world has made it there on their own. We all need someone to feed into us; and we all have something to teach or give back to someone else.