Growing Pains and Making Gains

218899_1804_smallOur mentors tell it best: through our Life Support program, we are helping youth to navigate the tough challenges life has thrown at them…

“We began our mentor/mentee relationship from the start, with dinner two years ago. The 19 year old “boy” that I met had been in some form of institutional care since he was in middle school. It had been years since he spoke to a relative, so he felt abandoned. He was angry and prone to emotional outbursts. There were several occasions that he was hours away from being homeless and on the streets. Over the two years I have seen him grow up considerably. He is holding down a job, and has an apartment that he is paying for on his own. He has established personal and financial goals, both short and long term. He has reached out to family and is beginning the long, hard road to establishing a relationship with them again. It has been a rewarding experience for me, as a mentor, to see him get to a place where he has a chance to succeed. We see each other almost every week. Originally we would go bowling, go to a baseball game, or simply go out and grab an ice cream and talk. We have made dinners, and even gone out on a run. Now, because of his work schedule, we typically settle on having lunches together. I am listed as a reference on his applications, and as his emergency contact on his medical information. I have taken him to court, and taken him to doctor’s offices. I have watched him succeed, and watched him fail. I guess I forgot how difficult it was to navigate the waters of early adulthood, and couldn’t imagine trying to do it alone. To be clear; it hasn’t always been pretty. He has had emotional outbursts. He has had conflict with others and me. That said, he has certainly come a long way, and I believe I have been able to make an impact in his life. He now comes to me for advice, and often just calls to chat. Now, and for the past year, those meetings and phone calls always end in him saying, “I Love You.” That is reward enough for me.”

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