TCMP Mentor is Volunteer of the Year!

The Tehama County Mentoring Program congratulates mentor Barbara Walls for being named Volunteer of the Year by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Tehama County!

This exciting announcement was made April 24 at a gala luncheon attended by representatives from the offices of US Representative Wally Herger, State Senator Sam Aanestad, and State Assemblyman Jim Nielsen. Tehama County Chief Administrator Bill Goodwin and Supervisor Charles Willard were also in attendance.

Barbara has been matched with her mentee, Dacoda, since March of 2006. A resident of Orland, Barbara made a commitment to mentoring in Tehama County when she realized Glenn County does not have a formal mentoring program. How lucky we have been to have her! Barbara and Dacoda have been quite the pair, enjoying everything from bocce ball to baking, arts and crafts to sports.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program invites adults 55 and older to contribute to their communities through volunteer service. The Tehama County Mentoring Program has been a host site for RSVP members since 2004 and has grown to rely on the experiences provided by mentors in this category. Other RSVP mentors are Gertrude Crossman, and Pem Lester, both of Corning and Tresha Wing of Red Bluff.

Barbara and Dacoda: Bonded in Bocce

DSC01551There is one thing Barbara Walls and her mentee Dacoda just can’t seem to agree upon: bocce ball. More specifically, who gets to wear the title “Queen of Bocce.” Each has crowned herself with the title and is adamantly unwilling to relinquish it to the other.

Bocce ball is one of several new activities Dacoda is trying with her mentor Barbara. “Friendly competition” is how they describe their play but it’s clear they’re both serious about the game. Dacoda, who had never played the game before meeting Barbara, can give a detailed description of how it’s played, following up with a look of pride at her mentor saying, “She’s the one who taught me that.”

In addition to bocce ball, the two enjoy trying new recipes in the kitchen, planting things in the yard, and arts and crafts. They’ve explored area parks, seen movies together and are enjoying the menu at Taco Bell. They also enjoy swimming. “We’re water girls,” says Barbara.

“We celebrate birthdays together”, says Dacoda, making sure to add that “We make brownies and cakes.” With this, Barbara gives a wink, knowing full well Dacoda is just making sure no one forgets that her birthday is only one month away. And it’s hard for everyone to believe that this birthday will see Dacoda turn 11 years old. The two were matched when she was eight. For Dacoda, “Miss Barbara” has become an important part of her life. “It’s kind of like a new family member for us,” she says. For Barbara, being matched with Dacoda gives her an opportunity to have children in her life again, something she has missed since her own children have grown.

Mentoring is more than an opportunity to try new activities for Dacoda. It’s an opportunity to try new ways of interacting with people and learning effective ways of communication. She can recall not being able to apologize to anyone for anything when she first met her mentor, including the time she accidentally hit Barbara with a rock in the garden. These days Dacoda says, “We talk a lot about feelings.” She can apologize now and has learned that “you don’t have to hold grudges.”

For Barbara’s part, she enjoys mentoring because, “It’s a creative outlet. It’s teaching, learning, experiencing. Our motto has been ‘Always do your best and do the next Right Thing’ It means to think about what you’re getting ready to do and make a choice.”

Dacoda, hugging Barbara, adds “Sometimes she can’t figure out her problems and I have to help her and sometimes I can’t figure out my problems and she has to help me.” They both agree that their mentoring relationship can be summed up with one word: caring.

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