RaeAnn (see our previous entry) and Mary Beth have been matched for over two and a half years. In speaking with both mentor and mentee, it is incredible to see what sort of relationship can be formed in such a short time. Read below for Mary Beth’s insights on mentoring, memorable moments and advice.
What did you anticipate or expect before the match?
I don’t know what I expected, but I was nervous that the match would not be comfortable. With Rae Ann, I felt very lucky to meet such a nice young woman. I was nervous about the baby because that involved two relationships, but it worked out great!
What has been the best thing about the program? The most frustrating?
The best thing about the program is the professionalism of the staff. The introduction/training provided was a good foundation. Jill’s (mentoring specialist) support was invaluable during the first several months.
The best thing about the mentor relationship is watching Rae Ann mature and feeling so proud when she works through issues that someone her age should not have to worry about. I am constantly impressed with her positive attitude and resourcefulness.
Have you learned anything?
I have learned that supporting doesn’t mean fixing her problems. Rae Ann has faced many difficult situations that required problem solving and self-confidence. She has always come through for herself and her daughter. I would not say it’s frustrating, but sometimes she makes decisions that are different than I would choose. Although I would like her to see the issue my way, I try not to make judgments about her choices. I just continue to talk about the pros and cons of decisions.
There have been several times I have received texts/phone calls about random good and bad events. It makes me happy that she thinks of me when something comes up in her life that she wants to share with a friend. She invited me to the baby’s first birthday party. I was able to meet her family and share that happy event with her.
Do you have favorite activity or funny memory?
We spent lots of time eating together during the first 6 months. This continues to be something we enjoy. We also enjoy cooking together. One night we were making lasagna and had to call the fire department because we smelled gas. We evacuated the baby and dogs to the car and Rae Ann waited for all clear to go back into the house to get the lasagna to take home with her.
Any advice for new mentors?
Take your cues from the youth you are working with. Try to lean in and make a connection. The relationship takes time to develop. Shared activities/memories are a good basis to develop a friendship. Also, be careful what you say. I have put my foot in my mouth several times. Rae Ann is very forgiving, but I never want to hurt her feelings. Lastly, use Jill (or your mentoring specialist) as a resource. When I am not sure what to do or need help and do not know where to go, I call Jill. She is always available to listen and offer advice.
How has your experience been as a mentor since Rae Ann has turned 21?
Raeann and I both got busy and I work during the day and she works evenings. Sometimes it is hard for us to get together. I would say the relationship is more natural and less planned. In the beginning, we met regularly and for a shorter time. Now we sometimes do not see each other for several weeks and then we might spend the whole day together. I know the people in her life that she talks about and she knows my family and close friends.
I wanted a volunteer activity that would allow me spend my time doing something I enjoy. I always look forward to spending time with Rae Ann and her daughter. We shop, go to bookstores, have lunch, visit amusement parks, cook, do crafts, talk, deal with day-to-day problems and enjoy each other’s company. I would highly recommend mentoring.