To continue our salute to our incredible mentors for National Mentoring Month, we have yet another fantastic Tom to spotlight as one of our 5-year mentors!!
Tom B. is an Environmental Consultant, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, and now lives in Bucks County with his wife Barbara. The couple has 2 grown children in their late twenties, who also live/work in the area. Tom is currently matched with his 3rd young man through Tabor. He also mentored 2 others directly through Bucks County Children & Youth prior to joining Tabor’s program. Here a little about Tom’s experience:
1. What were you expecting it to be like?
“When I first entered the program I thought I could bestow my wisdom and experience on others sort of as a teacher. I had been a scout leader for many years and I thought I might be able to turn my focus to children that needed a helping hand. What a sense of self-importance I had!”
2. Did your experience match what you expected? In what way?
“My experience was not quite completely opposite of what I was expecting but definitely went in a different direction. My mentees were generally independent youths that thought they knew what they wanted to do, but needed a nudge here and there in their thinking. Not so much my telling them what to do, but more getting them to look at it in different ways so they could weigh the options.“
3. What is something that surprised you/or that you were not expecting?
“I was often surprised at the reaction or misperception of who I was and my role. The mentees have (so many) people in their lives – Tabor counselors, county case workers, etc. The mentees thought I was a paid person like their counselors. One day, while waiting for my mentee to get ready, I got to talking to one pair of foster parents who asked me which county office I was out of and whether I got overtime for the afterhours work. They were surprised to find out that I was a volunteer doing this for the fun of it!”
4. What is something you want the readers, new mentors, or potential mentors to know?
“I think this program has a lot to offer. If nothing else, it teaches through example and anecdote how to interact with people, govern themselves in public, and think about the repercussions of their actions. My first mentee told me about a situation in high school where he was convinced he had to have it out with another student. My mentee was 18 and the other student was 17. He wasn’t buying my points that violence doesn’t solve anything, but he paid attention when I told him he is now an adult and could be charged as such; that woke him up and taught him a little self-control.”
5. Anything else you’d like to share?
“If I could offer one piece of advice it is don’t get discouraged and do not expect praise and exaltations from your mentees. I have had several matches and I did not see immediate results despite all my efforts. In addition, many of these children have been in the system a long time and may have a jaded view of life. So they sometimes see the mentor as just another adult passing through. My hope is that at some point in the future, they will be in a situation and remember my advice.”