Archive for the ‘One to One Mentoring’ Category

Profiles in Mentoring: Brad and Dennis

February 11, 2010

In January 2002, Brad Carter was matched with a 9 year old boy named Dennis in the Tehama County Mentoring Program. Neither was quite sure what to expect from the other but both anticipated an adventure. Today, 8 years later, they are the longest running match in the program and a model example of the power and magic of mentoring.

Eight years is a long time in a child’s development and Dennis has grown from a boy to a young man.  Throughout that time, Brad has been a consistent guide, helping Dennis through the loss of close family members and cheering him on at baseball, football and basketball games. It’s hard for Dennis to hone down the highlights of his relationship and he answers simply, “There are a lot of highlights.” What is crystal clear, however, is the affection and respect the young man has for his mentor.  Dennis describes Brad as “A big brother/father figure, someone who really listens, who cares. He helps me on issues I wouldn’t know how to attack. Overall, he’s someone who is there no matter what.”

For Brad, helping Dennis through some of the big life lessons he’s dealt with so early in life has been a tremendous opportunity.  “Mentoring Dennis has made me feel so fortunate,” he explains. While Brad initially signed up to mentor to give back to the community, it’s clear he has gained just as much as he’s given. His wife, Loretta, has kept a photo album of the time Dennis and Brad spend together and its grown thick over the years with memories from outings the two have made. From a young boy bundled up in a life jacket for his first boat ride, to the two dressed more formally for Dennis’ 8th grade graduation, to a proud Brad beaming at Dennis on the baseball field, the photos reveal a deep connection that mentoring consistently over time develops.

Dennis’ love of team sports is a success Brad can claim. Soon after meeting Dennis, Brad suspected that he’d do well as an athlete and that the activity would be an excellent outlet for the boy’s anger.  Today, Dennis smiles widely as he talks of being a triple athlete—football, baseball and basketball — and has found a positive niche in high school. Season after season, Brad has helped Dennis gear up and get going. Their mutual pride in this success is palpable.

While the official mentoring relationship will end with the program when Dennis graduates from high school, we know a lifetime relationship has been forged.

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TCMP Mentor is Volunteer of the Year!

July 14, 2009

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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Faces of Mentoring: Miguel and Javi

March 20, 2009

_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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Kelen and Maureen

March 1, 2009
Kelen and Maureen

Kelen and Maureen

When mentor Maureen Greer thinks back to the day she met her mentee, Kelen, in 2004 she remembers a radiant smile on Kelen’s face. To which Kelen replies, “Was I actually smiling back then? I was so depressed.”

 Since then, both Kelen and Maureen have had plenty of opportunities to smile as one of the longest running matches in the Tehama County Mentoring Program. Both say that one of the greatest things about their relationship has been the chance to do things that they never would have done without the benefit of knowing each other. “I introduced her to animals!” says Kelen, “Now she wants a dog!” With that, it’s Maureen’s turn to smile. She’s still not likely to own a dog, but she has opened up to the concept of spending more time around them. To nurture Kelen’s interest in animals, Maureen signed them both up to volunteer at the animal shelter as well as a wildlife rehabilitation center.

 The two have also explored local theatre and their local community. They laugh about the day early on in their relationship when they were driving to a Renaissance Faire. “We were taking the scenic route” says Maureen. “We were lost!” interjects Kelen. “That’s why now I pay more attention where we are.”

 “Kelen and I both have our little quirks” says Maureen, “And there’s room for respecting them. One of the things I admire about Kelen is that she is willing to learn.”

 Kelen admits that her mentoring relationship has helped her to not act out in anger any more. But she also admits that she didn’t immediately take to her mentoring relationship. The secret, she relays, is that, “We opened up. Well, I opened up. I remember the first couple of days (with Maureen) I didn’t even talk.”

 For Maureen’s part, getting through those initial visits wasn’t that difficult. “I take the concept of commitment very seriously,” she says. “My original commitment was for a year. By the end of the year I realized that this kid was going to be in my life for life. That was a surprise.” Maureen became a mentor because she has a strong inclination towards community service and wanted to do something in youth development.

Now though, it seems Maureen’s a mentor simply because, “Kelen’s fun. She’s great company.”

With that, Kelen’s face lights up and you can see her scheming to get Maureen to own a dog.

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