Danielle (right) with her mentor Kirsten

When Kirsten and her student Danielle each joined Community for Youth (CfY) in 2011, they both found mingling with other people difficult. Standing next to each other during a community building activity, Danielle confided in Kirsten that she was struggling with the new setting. Her honesty in that moment sparked something in Kirsten, and that was the beginning of a lasting bond which continues to help both women grow.

Throughout their years together, they’ve supported each other through many chapters including Danielle’s decision to apply for college. An opportunity that had previously seemed impossible, Danielle was “willing to look within herself and push herself to grow,” according to Kirsten. Four years after being accepted into the University of Idaho, Kirsten sat in the crowd as Danielle walked across the stage to accept her B.A. in English, graduating summa cum laude.

While according to Kirsten she was “able to offer encouragement, a supportive presence, and consistency,” it was Danielle who taught Kirsten how to be a mentor. “Danielle taught me that just showing up and listening…is most critical about mentoring.”

With Danielle’s return to Seattle after graduation, the two have been able to “connect more as equals,” even job hunting together. “We get together to do things like go used book shopping and to museums on free Thursdays,” wrote Kirsten. “It is just a very comfortable relationship. Together and separately, Danielle and I will always be part of the Community for Life.”