I matched with my teen mentee, Susie back in May. Obviously, during a pandemic, it was hard to immediately connect since all activities were initially virtual. However, once the COVID guidelines changed and we could safely meet face to face, we hit the ground running. I spent time with her each month shopping, talking, eating, or getting our nails done like normal young adult friends would.
Susie participates in sports, such as sideline cheer. Susie mentioned the date of her first game, too which I responded: “Am I allowed to attend,” and asked for a copy of the schedule for the whole season. Susie seemed surprised and asked if I would “really come to watch her cheer?” I was confused about this but answered yes. Susie then told me that she has been cheering for a few years and no one had come to watch her. Her foster mom’s responsibilities caring for the other children placed in her home made it difficult for her to come and watch Susie cheer.
I then learned that due to COVID, each player is only allowed 2 tickets for family or friends to attend. So, Susie and I made it a tradition to get dinner before her games. I became another positive support in her life. I enjoyed watching her cheer at her home games. I have also been lucky enough to make a connection with Susie’s two younger sisters as well.
Every year, our organization puts together some Christmas gifts for our clients. This year I made an appointment with Susie to meet with her and give her gifts. Susie informed me that it was also her sister’s birthday that day. Our organization had some leftover donations, so I was able to locate a new pair of plain black tennis shoes to give to her little sister.
When I got there, I wished the Susie’s sister a Happy Birthday and apologized for not having a bigger gift. When she opened the gift and saw the plain black shoes (which I personally didn’t think she would like), the younger sibling thanked me not just once, but then thanked me at least 15 more times in the short time I was there with them.
Both of these experiences (mentoring Susie and giving her younger sibling a small birthday gift) have really stuck with me. It showed me the impact of having someone “support you from the stands” or getting a “plain black pair of shoes” for my birthday are normal everyday things for me and so many others, but not for these youth.
Do you have 4 extra hours a month to spend with a teen like Susie? If so, send an email to Sandy Avery by Click Here more information on how to become a YIT mentor!
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.