I first met my mentee on July 1, 2008. Her DHS caseworker requested a mentor for her from AFFEC, and I was chosen to be matched with her. During the time since then, she and I have seen our relationship grow and change tremendously. From the beginning, we both have enjoyed shopping at Goodwill and at yard sales to find great bargains and hidden treasures. We also love to go out to eat dinner when we are together, to cook some favorite foods, to play board games and to shoot basketballs. It was a very special experience when she began to spend the night in my home every now and then, which gave us more time to plan arts and crafts projects to work on together. Recently, she spent several weeks living with me while her DHS caseworkers worked to identify a new foster placement where she and her younger brother can live together. This gave us a chance to really know one another well and to deepen our friendship as we shared our daily routines and talked about our hopes and dreams for her future.
My mentee says that having a mentor is a lot like having a best friend, someone that you really trust. She thinks that having a mentor is important because many kids don't have a chance to make friends, and a mentor is like your own personal friend, so that you don't feel so lonely. I think that being a mentor has allowed me the opportunity to watch a very special child grow and discover her real self while facing adversity that would certainly discourage most people. My skills at listening and supporting her have been strengthened, and I have had the joy of knowing that I can make a difference in how her life unfolds.
Both her and her brother are now in a wonderful new foster home, which happens to be much farther away from me, but we have decided that we want to continue our mentoring relationship because it is so important to both of us. In the next few weeks, we will start to see how things will change, since we will not be able to get together as frequently as before. Nevertheless, I believe that we will each make the effort to stay close friends, and that I will have the very special privilege of watching her grow into a beautiful, talented and successful young woman!