One thing that stands out from my five years in CfY is a BBQ I had at my house with my Family Group. The students were so open with my kids. I especially remember one boy who immediately started playing catch with my son who was only about 3 at the time. The student ended up carrying my son on his shoulders during the gathering. So much love to give and he was happy to drop the blanket of toughness and give care to others. I think it’s in every student to let baggage go, especially in a safe place, and be vulnerable, simply play ball and just be a kid. They’re just babies themselves with too much stress at home and/or school and want to just be themselves!
In regards to my life currently, I think my CfY experience made me a better mother. My kids, now 16 and 18, have seen me volunteer and understand the importance of that and support me volunteering again. Having good discussions with my kids and their friends about school shootings, etc. motivates me. Young people have so much to say and I’ve always known that, but my CfY experience confirmed the need for a stable village. Also, I’m still friends with many mentors. Lifelong friendships often happen through CfY! I am also still in contact with one of my mentees. She now has two children, lives nearby, and I see her around town often.
I am not currently involved with CfY, but will start again as a mentor in the fall! I am aware of all the troubles in the world, but we can only handle so much! So I focus on my immediate community and I think what we do for the people closest to us will spread and have an effect on others outside our community. I continue to see the impact CfY has on young people through old friends who have volunteered in the past and friends whose kids are now CfY mentees. Let’s keep it going! CfY works.
If I could give any advice to current mentors in the program, it would be, all problems will not be solved with your student in one week, one month, or even one year! To me, the key is consistency, follow-through, and listening without judgment. Share when it’s appropriate, but don’t bring too much of your own stuff into the mix. We can learn as much from the students as they do from us.