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Stories / Youth

A week in the life of a mentor

Generational change, one child at a time, one week at a time

Professional mentor Jeremy plays monster tag, touch football, cooks breakfast, and, most importantly, provides consistency for his boys. Every day is different because his youth face unique challenges. Here is an example of one week for him as a professional mentor:

Monday, I pick up Drew* (9) from his after-school care. Drew can be incredibly kind, but sometimes he will aggressively lash out. In fact, he was expelled from his last school because of his behavior. When we are together, we talk about how to manage various scenarios in a non-aggressive way. After homework, we shoot hoops with other mentors and their youth to encourage him to build positive relationships.

Tuesday, I’m with up Sean* (7). He is quick to laugh and joke around, but also has behavior problems at school. When we are in the car, we work on ways to handle his anger. I give him a scenario, and he has to choose the best between three possible solutions. It’s my job to give him tools to work through problems before situations get out of control. He has a really positive attitude and loves playing football.

Wednesday, I have Zion* (8), who is a class clown in the best way. Zion also has a hard time following directions and being patient. Because his father is in jail and his family is constantly changing living situations, it’s been tough for him to find consistency. Seeing him every week no matter what is my priority.

Thursday is my day with Miles* (8) and Jerome* (7). The boys are good friends. Our first task is to complete homework. They rarely struggle with it, so I give them additional worksheets as a challenge. Then we head to a park to throw the football around. This is a great opportunity for them to work on their problem-solving skills.

Friday, I pick up Jackson* (9) and Russell* (10). We have a set routine to our outings as they thrive with consistency. Jackson is very thoughtful, and Russell makes quick decisions. They are perfect together because they balance each other out. They are both very imaginative, so we go to the park so that they can create new worlds on the playground.

Saturday, I see Earl* (9). I have found that he excels in a one-on-one setting. He is incredibly insightful, but when he is around his peers, he often falls into posturing to look tough. I discovered that Earl is interested in cooking, so we have started cooking breakfast on our outings and trying new recipes. It means a lot to me that he opens up and knows he can trust me and be himself.

As a K-5 mentor, I work with boys at an age when they are starting to develop values about themselves and their community. My role as a mentor is to give them hope and encourage them to make healthy, positive choices despite setbacks they may encounter. Over the next ten years, every time they face a setback, it’s my job to pick them up, dust them off and throw them back into this game of life with more confidence and skills to succeed.

*Names changed to protect the privacy of the youth