Faces of Mentoring: Miguel and Javi

_d301576miguel1For 30 year old mentor Miguel Garnica, mentoring has become a lesson in the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” For his 10 year old mentee, Javi, it’s been a lesson in “Hard work pays off.” The two, matched in September 2006, have been collaborating to improve Javi’s grades and develop a support system he can rely on. They’ve also been a having a lot of fun. If you ask them about their meetings, there always seems to be mention of a burger, burrito or milkshake!

One of the first things Miguel did when he met Javi was to shore up his resources. That meant getting to know important people in Javi’s family and life. “It’s great to talk to his teacher, his principal and the mentor coordinator,” says Miguel. As a case manager at the Corning Family Resource Center, Miguel has also been able to connect Javi to program resources in the community, including Family Fun Nights at the center. “We communicate with the village surrounding Javi.”

Miguel has nurtured Javi’s interest in the Titanic, something Javi says he was extremely interested in “for about two years”, but he’s also made sure Javi’s grades haven’t sunk like the famous ship. “When I wasn’t getting good grades, he helped me and I improved,” Javi says of Miguel. “Instead of doing fun stuff we read and then I improved. It wasn’t fun for me, but I improved.”

When asked how that improvement felt, Javi says, “I felt good getting good grades. I get a good feeling knowing I’m not behind. Right now I’m reading thick books instead of thin.”

But it’s not just English, Miguel is helping Javi with. They’re also working on Javi’s Spanish. Miguel related a simple but embarrassing mistake Javi made referring out loud to a woman at the Family Resource Center as an ‘old lady’ in Spanish.  “I mostly know English instead of Spanish,” says Javi. “For two weeks he (Miguel) only talked to me in Spanish. It was torture! I can understand it, but I couldn’t really talk it.” Javi then went on to speak extremely quickly in Spanish to prove that in this area, too, he has made improvements.

Miguel has become quite popular at Javi’s school, with boys flocking to him asking if he’ll mentor them as well. He and Javi have become spokespeople for the Tehama County Mentoring Program on campus, as well as familiar faces on program brochures and billboards. The attention is well deserved for, as Javi puts it, “He always works hard. He’s someone I can look up to.”

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