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Mentors share experiences working with local program


January 30, 2020

The TeamMates program always appreciates the adult mentors for giving time to be there for students in our communities. January is National Mentoring Month and a time we especially want to recognize and express our gratitude to them.

Mentors understand their role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic and tuned in to the needs of the mentee. Studies show that mentees benefit from meeting with an extra encouraging adult, but what do mentors get out of the experience?

Several Clearwater-Orchard mentors share their thoughts.

Kate Watson

When I was asked about mentoring, the first thought that came into my head was, "I am already so busy, let me think about it." As I was thinking, I started to remember those people in my life, besides family, that took time to pour into my life and mentor me. These people had a huge impact in my life, and spending time with them is something I will never forget and will always be grateful for. I have been doing TeamMates now for about three years. The thing I love the most are the conversations I have with my mentee. It takes time to develop a relationship where you come to trust the other person, and seeing that trust develop and having our conversations go deeper, has been the best part for me. I know I am there to have a positive impact on my mentee, but it definitely goes both ways. My mentee has impacted my life in many ways as well. I never expected to love mentoring as much as I do. Positive relationships matter, and I am so glad that I said yes!

Teresa Kester

I have been with the TeamMates mentoring program for six years. My mentee and I meet once a week during the school year. Together we play board games and card games, complete jigsaw puzzles, play sports, bake and just talk about our week. A couple times during the school year, we meet up with other mentees and mentors to do other fun activities, such as pizza parties, bowling and going to the YMCA in Norfolk. I enjoy our time together and feel a sense of gratification every week.

Mentoring makes a difference in both the mentee and mentor's life. I definitely encourage others in our community to join TeamMates by becoming a mentor.

Anita Tabbert

I love seeing the child's eyes light up when they see me. And, even after you stop mentoring them for one reason or another, they will still make a point to say hi when they see you.

While mentoring, we don't always have deep conversations. It's usually small talk and then there are times we hardly talk while we play games or shoot baskets or play badminton. But my hope is that my mentees (current and past) know that I will always be here for them.

Morgan Buckendahl

As a mentor, I feel like we get a lot out of every meeting we have with our mentee. We learn more about the person. Mentors are there to let them know that there's someone who will listen to them and spend time doing things they like to do. It's been a great experience so far and I think everyone should give TeamMates a chance. Just by being there for that young person, you could be making an impact on that person's life.

Troy Watson

Anytime you venture into something new, such as participating in the TeamMates program, there's a certain amount of uncertainty in terms of what to expect and whether or not it will be a positive experience. I'm in my fourth year now and have had the opportunity to meet with two students from our area. One has graduated now and the other is quickly morphing from his elementary school self into a young man. My guys couldn't be much different than they are, but there's something intrinsically the same about them. They both have their dreams of what the future looks like. They both want to be good at what they enjoy. They both value their reputations and care about what others think about them. In those respects, they are both a lot like me.

I was fortunate (lucky?) when I was young to have men care about me enough to set a good example for me to model myself. The thing is, I really didn't begin modeling those things until many years later. As I matured as a human being, I began to value what was put before me as I developed into manhood. What that means is that those men, many of which I haven't seen in 20+ years, never enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that what they were doing really mattered to me (and probably countless others).

Time will only tell if my guys will draw any good from me as they forge their paths into adulthood. It's likely I may never know even if they do. But TeamMates isn't about me. It's about an opportunity I have to model decency and encourage excellence as young people discover their strengths and pursue those things passionately. And who knows, maybe someday someone will say that they were "lucky" to have lunch once a week with some guy. Time will tell.


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