Irwin Magevney’s story about mentoring with Youth Villages and the U of M Tiger statues
“I have been mentoring with Youth Villages for a little bit over a year now, and it has been a completely life changing experience for me. I first got involved with Youth Villages volunteering with the runners club, and then decided I wanted to become more involved. I decided mentoring would be a good fit because of the one-on-one aspect of the Youth Villages mentoring program. My most memorable moment came on a Saturday last September. My mentee and I usually spent one evening a week together and then I would take her on outings once to twice a month on the weekends. At the time my mentee and I really enjoyed making friendship bracelets, and she had recently asked me to make her an orange and white bracelet. Anyone that knows me knows I am not a UT fan at all, and it almost pained me to make this bracelet for her.”
“Shortly after my mentee requested the orange and white bracelet, I got an email from the University of Memphis Alumni Association letting all the tiger faithful know that all 100 tiger statutes commissioned for the university’s centennial would be on display on campus for one day only. The event was free and open to the public. After reading the email I immediately contacted my mentee’s counselor to arrange for me to take her to the event. I was quite pleased with myself as my mentee loved art and photography. I knew this would be a great picture taking opportunity, and she would really enjoy seeing the 100 tiger sculptures. It didn’t hurt the event was free, which anyone who had spent much time mentoring knows without a little creativity outings can get a little expensive. Also, given her recent affinity for orange and white I could perhaps instill in her a love for tiger blue and gray!”
“The appointed Saturday arrived. I picked my mentee up and explained to her about the 100 tigers and let her know I had the camera. She got very excited about all the pictures we were going to take and how much fun it would be to put them in our scrapbook. We got to the University of Memphis campus and really enjoyed seeing the tigers and deciding which ones were our favorites. Then we went into the student union to get some lunch. My mentee was a bit overwhelmed with all the choices, and told me she had no idea that’s what a college campus was like. After lunch she asked if we could walk around and see more of campus, so I agreed. We went to the library, and it was truly amazing to watch her face light up as she asked me questions. She wanted to know if this is where she would study when she was in college, which books she would use, and where would she meet her friends. Next she wanted to see what a real college classroom looked like, and once again she was completely fascinated.”
“After we checked out everything we headed back to Youth Villages. In the car my mentee thanked me for taking her to see the University of Memphis. For her it wasn’t about seeing tiger sculptures; it was about seeing and experiencing a college campus. Having grown up a few blocks from the University of Memphis, and having two parents who are both college graduates I completely took it for granted that this would be an interesting and exciting experience. In the car that afternoon, my mentee told me she always knew she was going to college, but after seeing a real college campus she had no doubt college was definitely something for her. To listen to her speak about college and see the excitement in her eyes made me feel incredibly privileged to provide her with that chance. Mentoring is about providing youth with positive experiences to move their lives forward. That Saturday afternoon I realized that those experiences can come about in the most unlikely ways.”
If you would like to become a mentor with Youth Villages or any of our other partner organizations, visit our website and fill out the interest form and we will contact you about the opportunities that would work best for you.