Day 14: Mentor
One of the biggest rewards in my life is being a mentor, or more specifically a Big Sister. Four years ago, shortly after my divorce, I decided to apply to be a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters after hearing my manager (at the time) talk about her experiences with having a Little Sister. It took a few months to be matched, but in May 2009, I met this sweet and sassy 6-year old who talked me into taking her to McDonald’s for ice cream. My life has not been the same since then.
We started out going out a couple of hours once a week for dinner and some time at the library where we would do puzzles, homework or crafts. When my job changed I was able to take her out on weekends, so we started going out for longer times two or three times a month to places like The Owl Sanctuary, Predators games, swimming and the nail salon for some girlie time. Recently she and her family have moved a little further away, so our outings changed to once a month, but it’s important to me to still maintain that relationship with her and make the most of our time together.
Before I signed up, Big Brothers Big Sisters trained me and let me know that I was making a sizable commitment to mentoring and developing a relationship with my Little Sister once I was matched. They ask for a one year commitment, but we’ve been matched now for 3 1/2 years. They were right about the commitment taking more time than it seems (a minimum of 4 hours a month), but I never imagined how much that commitment would mean to me still today. It’s been an awesome experience to watch her grow from a little girl into a young lady now 10-years old. She is always so energetic and entertaining that it keeps me on my toes. I can’t help but wonder how my life would be without her, though I imagine it would lack a certain bit of joy, which is why I wanted to continue going out with her at least once a month when she moved farther away.
Over the years, my family has gotten to know her family, as well. My Little Sister lives with her mom and a brother a year older than she. We’ve celebrated a few holidays together, and we’ve helped each other out when we needed it. My relationship with my Little Sister has grown from being a commitment that I made to an organization to welcoming three more pretty awesome people into my family. I truly hope to still be in my Little Sister’s life to watch her mature into an intelligent and beautiful woman.
One thing that I do want to mention is that as of this past summer, my Little Sister and I are no longer officially matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters since she moved away from Nashville, but we agreed to continue the match unofficially, and she will always be my Little Sister. The organization was awesome in their support during the 3+ years that we were matched and encouraged us to continue hanging out together after she moved.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor to a young person, I highly encourage you to seek out what is available in your community, whether it be Big Brothers Big Sisters or some other organization. I am more than happy to answer any questions about my experience, as well as offer advice on things to do and ways to help you through the mentoring process. Most organizations offer many free and sponsored activities, as well as suggestions on free and low cost things to do. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to be a mentor, and the time that you spend mentoring is returned to you in many ways.
Have you ever been a mentor to someone or has there been a special mentor in your life?
“No matter what your age and no matter where you come from, everyone can change the world in some way, whether it’s being a mentor to someone younger than you or someone that doesn’t have as much experience as you. If you’re passionate enough, you can do whatever you want and definitely change the world.” – Josh Groban