Have you ever had a series of events happen where you just realized this was how something was meant to be? I have, and in part, this is what has me sitting at my keyboard coming out (again) as a mentor on “I Am A Mentor” day (which is celebrated during National Mentoring Month (which January is)).
I think I’ve always been a mentor in some capacity with the people that have been a part of my life over the years. I think it is a natural part of who I am, and I think everyone has this within them, and often just need to find the right space to show the world (or not).
Since starting to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, mentoring has been a huge part of my life. Not the actually “doing” part of it – though there were elements of that in my day-to-day work life – but the listening and coaching of volunteers, youth and parents/guardians in the matches that each of them had as a part of their lives. As each day went on, I wanted to be a part of that experience. I talked with Chris and after he was on board, we got our applications and screening done and were approved.
Here is where the “it was meant to be” starts. On March 5 (Chris and my anniversary) we received the call to share we had a Little Brother. I remember the elation that I had at the time, which I tried to capture in this blog post. Then we met Trey and his mom, Andrea (this is done at a Match Introduction). We left our first meeting with Trey appreciating how great this experience was going to be. This was nearly seven years ago (at the time of this post), when Trey was 10.
In those (nearly) seven years, we have continued to “hang out” with Trey nearly every week. (Side note: this is not the norm with matches; the expectation is meeting between 2-4 times a month.) We have skipped a week here and then due to travels, or sickness, or tennis tournaments, etc. but not a week goes by where we don’t talk to Trey. It’s like you are missing something in your life if that interaction doesn’t happen (not sure if that explains it or not). Some of the highlights of our time together have been our regular trips to Schlitterbahn, Jimmy Buffet concerts (I think 2-3), transitioning from middle school to high school and getting on the tennis team, the many surprise parties celebrating our birthdays, and our fancy steak dinner at Three Forks to celebrate Trey’s 17th birthday.
I have had many discussions with mentors who have shared that they want to “make a difference” in a young person’s life, and there were some of thoughts with both Chris and I when we first started our journey with Trey, but there was something else. Trey impacted our lives in ways that we never could have anticipated.
We have watched him grow up. We have been then for those exciting moments in his life, and shared the misery in those less than happy times. We have shared the frustrations (in some cases we may have even caused some), but most of the time, we have just had fun. Mentoring can be hard, if you try too hard. We learnt early on that Trey just wanted to spend time with us. It didn’t matter what we did, as long as he was there to do it with us. Walking the dogs at the dog park, picking up trash along the BBBS adopted roadway, playing video games, swimming or just chilling at a basketball game – all of these have been more enjoyable because we were experiencing this with Trey.
Trey is now 17, a junior in high school playing on the varsity tennis team. He is an incredible young man, and we both love him like he is a part of our family – because he is. He drives (which still freaks me out thinking he is old enough to) and he is very responsible in life (and academics). And he still likes hanging out with us.
So yes, I Am A Mentor and my life has changed as a result of being Trey’s mentor. I am beyond thankful that I have had this experience in my life, and a difference has been made – only it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be … it has been so much better.
If you would like to be a Big / mentor, then sign up today with BBBS. Maybe there is a life out there that will change yours!