Cheryl Ullrich

To learn about mentoring with Youth Villages contact us or fill out an interest form.

My current mentee is Nicole.  We were introduced to each other two weeks ago.  Last week we were together as mentor/mentee for the first time, and I plan to spend time with her each week.
I have been a mentor with Youth Villages for just over a year.  Since I began mentoring, I have worked with three other teen girls.  They all are from other areas in Tennessee and were either able to return home or move close to home, but I have been able to stay in touch with all of them at some level, since.
I have lived in Germantown for just over nine years.  Our family moved from Chicago when my husband took a new job in the area.

For the past 20 or so years, my “career” has been full-time, stay-at-home mom.  Our youngest just left for college in August. As part of my plan for the empty nest years, I went back to college—attending the University of Memphis for the past 5½ years, first, part time to earn a degree in English, and now full time at the College of Education working toward a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

Through the years I have always done some type of volunteer work.  Up until I became a mentor, the most fulfilling volunteer experience for me since living in Germantown, was as a reading tutor for elementary children in a Memphis City school.  I loved spending time with the children I tutored and always hoped it was really making a difference for them.

I seriously thought about mentoring about a year and a half ago.  With one child at home, who was a very busy high school senior, I knew I had both the desire and the time to mentor a young person. I liked the idea of spending time with a child, building a relationship with him or her, and the possibility that it could have a positive impact on that child’s life.

Working with the Grizzlies Foundation, I narrowed my choice of where to mentor to Youth Villages, began the application process, and met my first mentee last September.

As far as a most memorable experience with a mentee, I can’t really single out a specific experience. Since I have mentored three teen girls over the past year, I have to say that with each one, I loved the time we spent together each week.  Introducing them to new experiences and places is so great.

The best feeling, though, is when I can tell the connection between us is mutual; the first time she says she can’t wait to tell you something important when you pick her up for an outing, or that spending time with you is the best part of her week. Those are the times I recall being the most memorable of each of my mentoring experiences.
As far as advice or insight for anyone interested in mentoring:
There are many young people in our area who wish for a mentor and who could benefit so much from having the kind of committed, positive relationship mentoring provides. 

I believe strongly that the commitment and a sense of trust that develop during a mentoring relationship are the most important things a mentor can give to a child.  It’s not just going places or buying things – it’s showing up when you say you will – all the time.
A person interested in mentoring needs to be sure this is a commitment he or she is ready to make and can make it a priority – that a person will write his or her mentoring dates on the calendar, in ink, and plan around those 2 or 3 or 4 days a month.
After that, a person should just enjoy planning and spending time with his or her mentee because there are so many things do and see and share with each other.

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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.