It was a typical work day. I heard there was a Big Brothers Big Sisters lunch and learn so I decided to attend (I was interested, yet I thought I had no extra time in my life). The presentation highlighted a new mentoring program – mentor2.0. As I listened, I thought to myself: “I could handle one weekly email and quarterly in-person events – that’s definitely doable.”
My Little Sister and I learned about each other through our emails. It felt kind of like we were pen pals. Seeing her at our in-person visits was like catching up with a friend. Over time she shared that math and English were difficult for her. I supported her throughout the year and encouraged her to keep working hard and to leverage all the school resources to help her succeed.
While I was beginning my role as a mentor, I couldn’t help but think about my son, Diego. He was 10 years old and grieving the loss of his father, so I applied and he was matched with a Big Brother. Diego and his Big Brother saw each other usually twice a month (they were in the community-based program). They liked to play video games, eat meals together and try new things like archery and rock climbing. His Big Brother treated him to Six Flags for making the A/B honor roll, which interestingly enough, Diego was making low Cs prior to being matched with a Big Brother just one year earlier.
Fast forward to June 2015 and I had had lunch with my Little Sister to celebrate her passing the 10th grade. While Diego has now made the A honor roll for the first time.
I often think about how I could ever thank my son’s Big Brother for helping Diego smile, laugh and play again – and make amazing grades in school! I also think about my Little Sister and how watching her come out of her shell and gain confidence changed my life as much as hers.
So, here’s the thing about mentoring: changing the trajectory of a young person’s life is also going to change yours. Whether your light inside burns brightly now or not, when you mentor someone it ignites a flame in the both of you.
This year the Celanese Foundation gave $15,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star to provide positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people. For more about the Celanese Foundation, visit http://foundation.celanese.com/.