If you’ve read my previous posts, you may recall this:
Also, they explained that there is the possibility of volunteering for a mentoring program afterward as well – which was mentioned in case you connect with a particular kid during the event. Sort of like a Big Brother/Sister thing, is how I understood it. Of course that requires different paperwork and training and that whole “ongoing time commitment” I’ve mentioned not having room for, but it’s certainly an intriguing thought.
Well, God continues to surprise me. And I think sometimes He just has to laugh when I’m sitting down here worrying about how things are going to work out. I certainly would. Someday I will stop worrying like that… I hope. In the meantime, here’s how it really went down:
- I went to camp.
- I met some amazing kids.
- I fell in love with them all and connected with one girl in particular… or at least I thought I had. (I secretly worried that she secretly thought I was a total dweeb and was just humoring me to be nice. Why did that feel SO much like high school???)
- I asked for information about becoming a mentor:
- not even knowing if any of the kids in my group were interested in/eligible for the mentoring program.
- Not knowing how in the world I would find the time to actually mentor someone. My schedule was already bursting at the seams!
- Not knowing what Luke would think of this crazy new idea. Mentoring is a one-on-one deal. He’d have to watch the kids. He already watches them at least one night a week so I can write.
- Secretly wondering if I were just a little insane.
Still I asked, and I left the camp with the email address for the head of the mentoring program in my pocket.
As soon as I got home I talked to Luke about wanting to mentor and discovered he was very positive about it. So I sent the email officially asking for more information and listing the names of the kids I’d be open to mentoring. I mentioned that I thought I had connected with the one particular girl, but I wasn’t sure if she even needed/wanted a mentor. Since they had asked, I said that she would be my first pick for that reason.
Soon I received an email with all the introductory information and the application for becoming a foster youth mentor. I learned that I would need to visit with my mentee for at least 2 hours per week and that I needed to commit to being that child’s mentor for a minimum of one year. I also needed to go through a medical exam (I’d already done the background stuff for the camp) and I needed to attend a specific training for becoming a mentor which was scheduled for mid-September.
Within a couple days I found out that the girl I had connected with was eligible and interested in having a mentor, but that she wanted her mentor to also be her little sister’s mentor. Her little sister had also bunked in our room and I thought she was positively adorable. This was no problem for me from that point. In fact, I was delighted. I had thought I could only mentor one, but here I was getting the opportunity to get to know both of these girls. My only concern, again, was time. I didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep. Once I’d asked more clarifying questions and figured out how being a mentor to both of them would affect my time commitment, I talked to Luke about it and we both decided that we could make it work. :D
To say that I was worried about balancing everything would be an understatement, but I felt strongly that this was a path the Lord had set before me to follow. So I just trusted that He would show me a way.
Well, He did. Not in any way that I had imagined, but He did. He made it clear that certain other commitments in my life needed to come to an unexpected and abrupt end. Now, I find myself not with gobs and gobs of free time (I doubt that will ever happen), but with far more time and flexibility than I had before.
Now I have completed both my medical exam and my mentor training. (Oh, and I confirmed that the girl knows it ME that wants to be her mentor and she’s totally cool with that! Yea! ) The next steps are a phone call from the mentor program coordinator and then introductory meetings with each girl and her foster parents. Then we get to start having visits!
Had you told me six months ago what my life would look like right now, I would have laughed at you. “I’ve always worked with younger kids. Teenagers intimidate me. There’s no way I’d volunteer for that.” I just didn’t see this coming, but I am very excited to see where it goes. I am excited to get to know this girl and her sister better. I think we’ll have a lot of fun together. I am hopeful that I will be a positive influence in their life – that they will come to trust me and know they can rely on me. I expect that they will teach me things and that I will stretch and grow as a result of knowing them. I know already that I am a different person – that I see and understand things differently – because of the experience I had at camp and the things I’ve learned since then. I am so excited to see what God does next.
One final thing, here is a great description of what a mentor does (found here):
Foster youth ages 6-18 need consistent, stable adult role models to guide them to a successful life path. Numerous studies show mentoring significantly reduces youth’s drug and alcohol use, improves school outcomes, and decreases adolescent violence.
Foster Youth Mentors Help in the Following Ways:
- Provide a stable, consistent and genuine friendship.
- Participate in a variety of social outings and activities.
- Assist with homework, the completion of a GED, high school diploma or perhaps a college degree.
Minimum Requirements for a Youth Mentor
- A one year commitment to a child - Minimum contact of 2 hours per week.
- Be at least 18 years of age - Pass criminal clearances.
- Complete monthly activity reports - Adhere to the directives of the child’s social worker. Ability to interact and communicate clearly with professionals. Provide current CA Drivers License - Provide proof of auto insurance.