First name of mentee: Nijwa
Program / agency: Project AWARE Mentoring Program / Families of Incarcerated Individuals, Inc
Years serving as mentor: Began mentoring Nijwa March 2009 ; mentored teenagers through my church for several years before joining PAMP
Job: Contract Analyst for Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare
Why became a mentor: I became a mentor because as a child I was always blessed to have positive people in my life. Whether it was my mom, coaches, teachers, or other adults; there was always someone there guiding and encouraging me to reach my goals and helping me to make good decisions. So I feel I have a responsibility to those who have helped me so much through the years to pay it forward and to do my best to be a positive influence in a young person’s life.
Memorable experience with mentee: Before I met Nijwa, I was told that she was a very quiet and shy child. And I remember how much she reminded me of myself as a child after I met her. Initially she didn’t say much at all. Her aunt and I did most of the talking. But she eventually began to open up and I realized the profile I was given was not quite accurate. She began to talk about all the things she was involved in at school and her other interests. She began showing me projects from school, her artwork, and all her awards. I realized immediately that she had a wonderfully creative mind and a bright personality. She was so excited about the things she was doing and it made me excited for her.
Advice / insight to others interested in mentoring: It’s an easy thing to do and it does not take a lot of your time. Go to a movie, to the park, to church together, and even a phone call to checkup on them. I’ve found that most kids just want to know that you are truly interested in things they are doing, you truly care about them, and they can depend on you to be there. And you if can do these things you’ll have a friend for life.