The power of mentoring
Kids say the darnedest things. And so do teenagers and adults too, for that matter.
YouthZone’s Pals Program offers people of all ages an opportunity to create lasting friendships through mentoring.
When the kids in the program were recently asked what they learned from having a mentor, we heard: “I learned to be honest and nice to others”; “I learned to have fun and not worry about things so much”; and “I learned that it’s good to do things for the community.”
And when the mentors were asked what they learned from being involved in the program, we heard: “I learned to be more energetic about life”; “I learned to have fun in not such a fun place”; and “I learned the true gift of giving.”
These are just a sampling. There are many more experiences which speak to the power of mentoring a child.
Think of someone who has made an impact in your own life. Who is it? Is it someone who set a good example, seemed to have it together, and spoke kind words? Maybe that person spoke harsher, stern, but necessary words. Maybe they didn’t speak much at all, but instead listened intently, were fun to be around, and that was all that mattered. Whatever it was about them that helped you navigate through a difficult time, you remember them, and probably always will.
Hmmm. So does a mentor have magical qualities, superpower insights, and all the right answers? Does a mentor know what to say and do in every situation? Aren’t they people who have plenty of free time, no kids of their own, work part-time, and really aren’t involved in much of anything?
Quite the contrary. As we look at our YouthZone mentors past and present, we see honest, often busy, hardworking people leading ordinary lives and doing something extraordinary. We see big hearts, helping hands, open minds, and fun-loving spirits. We see individuals who are willing to share a part of their lives, with no great expectations other than to be friends to young people. And so they commit to being themselves, and spending time with their YouthZone Pal. And for that alone, they are simply amazing.
January was a special month. We honored our volunteers as part of National Mentoring Month. We are grateful for their time, talents, and for what we at YouthZone have learned from them. They are true inspirations.
So we ask those of you reading this to pause for a moment and think. What do you do during the course of a week which could be a fun learning experience for a child? How about fixing dinner, playing cribbage or even working around the house? Maybe it’s grocery shopping, planting flowers, watching a ball game, walking the dog, grilling hamburgers or reading a book. For two hours a week, there’s a child in your town who would really enjoy sharing time with you.
At YouthZone, our greatest need is for male mentors for boys in kindergarten through eighth grade, and we also have a need for adult women. We have many Pals waiting, especially in the New Castle, Silt, Rifle, and Parachute areas. If you would like more information, have questions, or have decided you would like to be involved with the Pals Program, give us a call at 625-3141 in Rifle, 945-9300 in Glenwood Springs, or go to http://www.youthzone.com.
And just think. Given some time, you and one of those fantastic kids might be saying the “darnedest things” of all!
Nancy MacGregor is a YouthZone Pals Mentoring Case Manager
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