In their own words
Our mentors are the lifeblood of our organization. They give selflessly of their time and energy in their desire to change a young life. Some of our mentors spoke with us briefly about their reasons for mentoring and the mentor-mentee relationship. Read more in their own words, below.
I hope to get experience with kids that come from the same background that I came from. I want to mentor kids by being an inspiration to them. One of my academic advisors, Rod Jones, recommended I get involved with the 4C Coalition’s Group Mentoring program. It was a good idea … it’s something I’m interested in.
My parents were my mentors. I had both of them to look up to and help me. They are the most important mentors in my life. My coaches from back home are still my mentors. They helped me through high school and with the recruiting process. I’m still in touch with them.
I’m now a linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals and part of the National Football League. I played as a safety at the UW and was signed by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent during the 2018 NFL Draft.
At church seven years ago, I heard a presentation about 4C’s mentoring program. I had retired after 26 years as a supervisor at Boeing and decided he’d give mentoring a try. I attended the training program and then waited for two months to be assigned a mentee. I became very anxious about the commitment … I wasn’t sure that I would be up to the task.
My assigned mentee had a twin brother. Another man was going to take the twin but he backed out. I felt bad so I agreed to mentor both of them. It’s important to meet these kids at their level but you have to be careful that you’re not their friend — you are their role model. I had to learn this the hard way. You have to find a way to balance the two approaches.
I taught them one of the most basic things in life: being on time. It’s a tool to make your life easier. I stayed on them constantly about being on time and they eventually got it. A mentor has to learn as he goes along. I can’t give you a map or a book, you have to play it by ear. Often times, they just need someone to talk to. The important thing is to be there for them.
I wanted to work with young girls because high school was difficult for me. I wanted to help them learn how to be themselves and be confident in who they are. Five years ago, I attended a United Way presentation where I learned about the 4C Coalition. I felt like it was a perfect fit. I went through the training, and then they matched me with Andrea. We hit it off pretty quickly. She was 15; I was 10 years older. Her mother has been in and out of her life; her sister has raised her and her five siblings.
The cool thing about the 4C is that they don’t want you to be like another parent. I think I have been able to help and coach Andrea, not as an authority figure, but more as a peer — someone Andrea looks up to, someone setting a positive example for her. I think I’ve been a stable person in Andrea’s life during a time where a young person needs stability.
Mentoring Andrea has been an incredible experience. I have gotten to know someone who I now consider family. It’s nice to know that Andrea feels the same way. We are both very grateful to have found each other through the 4C.