Some of you know about my involvement in the Kinship mentoring program. When I started volunteering with the program 3 ½ years ago, I was so touched by all the inspirational stories of children’s lives changed. So touched, in fact, that I was sure I would be a hero to my mentee and change her life. Vain much?
Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Due to some behavioral issues with my mentee and a strained relationship between her mother and me (among other issues), the whole experience was a real test of my patience and many times (to this day) I’ve felt like a pretty crappy mentor.
Despite the challenges, I stuck with it for a couple of years and learned a lot about myself and how to deal with people who are very different from me. I’m sad to say our relationship has sort of fizzled out now that my mentee is a busy junior high student and my other commitments have made regular meetings even more difficult to coordinate.
But enough of my volunteerism woes. You don’t need to be an official mentor to be a role model and encouragement to someone who needs it. January is National Mentoring Month, so even if you can’t make a regular commitment, I’d encourage you to look for opportunities in your community, church or business to impact the young lives around you.
Looking back, I’ve been blessed with many mentors in my own life. Some of them (most, actually) were only in my life for a short time, but they still made a big impact. I think of my junior high youth pastor and his wife who encouraged me through those awkward years and helped me grow in my faith; my academic advisor in college who was not only a great communications professional but also an inspiring artist and breast cancer survivor; and a vice president at my first, post-college employer who offered compassionate and practical advice when my skin wasn’t yet thick enough to handle the everyday punches of the business world.
Thank Your Mentor Day is Thursday, Jan. 21. Who are you going to thank?
I could end this post with an inspirational story about the power of mentorship, or I could give you this:
I couldn’t resist. It’s one of my all-time-favorite Joey moments.