Inspiration and strength: Gifts from my mentors
January was National Mentoring Month. Throughout the month we had a chance to honor the people we consider our mentors. As I was busy getting together the lists to thank the wonderful people who volunteer as mentors at YouthZone, I reflected on the people who helped shape my life. Since entering the mentoring field about a year and a half ago, I have become increasingly aware of the importance and benefits of mentoring. I have also seen how mentors and mentoring opportunities are constantly around us.I have been lucky to have had many mentors in my life. Some are in my family, some are in my community, and some appeared for just a moment. All of my mentors are unique and taught me different things. The three qualities they shared, however, were strength of character, the ability to inspire others, and a willingness to share what they know with others. These people didn’t intentionally set out to inspire and share; they were simply being who they are. They led by example.Three of my mentors come to mind. One was my baby-sitter from my childhood, another is one of my best friends, and the other is my supervisor at YouthZone. All of these women have come into my life at different times, and fulfilled very different roles. My childhood baby sitter, Rosie, recently came back into my life, ironically in January, after an absence of almost 15 years. Rosie taught me about hard work, humility, and finding joy in everything. My friend Andrea, another mentor, came into my life as my riding instructor when I was 10. She was only 17 and still developing her own character, but she was an inspiring teacher, and remained my one constant during some very difficult family times. She was there for me every day at the barn, and is there for me now. Our relationship has shifted from one of teacher and student to friends and sisters. My supervisor, Patty, has taken on a more formal mentoring role in a work environment, but her influence has stretched far beyond the walls of our office. Patty inspires me every day through her work ethic, her faith and her strength. These wonderful women share one thing: They are unaware that they are my mentors … that they provided me the inspiration to continue to grow personally, spiritually, and professionally. Now I can, whether I’m aware of it or not, be a mentor to others. Mentoring takes place at any time, any place, and with anyone. We never know who sees us as their mentor when we show up as our best selves and share what we know with the world. If you are already a Pal through YouthZone, keep up the good work, and if you would like the opportunity to share what you know with one of the great kids waiting for a mentor like you at YouthZone, call me at 945-9300. Sarah Woods is a PALS mentoring program case manager at YouthZone.
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