“When you finally get to the end you realise that you’ve got a very different person there than the person you started with…and that young person is going to thrive by comparison to the person they were coming in.” – Sandy, Mentor
Sandy discovered the Raise youth mentoring program while she was caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s and looking for volunteering opportunities for her retired husband. Raise piqued her interest and she ended up applying to be a mentor for herself.
After the free training, Sandy was paired with Lucas who found it hard to engage with the program at first and didn’t always turn up to sessions. This changed when Sandy explained to Lucas that she would always be there to give her time and it would be respectful and fair for him to come as well. This resonated with Lucas, and from that point on, “He’d come early and he’d come shooting through the door… and he’d go: ‘I’m here!’”
Throughout the program, Sandy and Lucas developed a connection and shared a meaningful dialogue. “And he and I were just like two peas in a pod, it was just the most beautiful relationship it was very funny, we had a lot of humour between the two of us and we had quite big conversations – he wanted to be prime minister you see.”
Lucas was anxious about things in both his home and school life and, while Sandy couldn’t change these things, she was able to empower him with skills that enabled him to cope better and move forward. Sandy helped Lucas by listening and empathising with his problems and concerns. She guided Lucas in breaking down the bigger picture into smaller components to see what could be addressed, teaching Lucas to create bite-sized chunks that felt manageable. “I’d hate to think what his life might have been like without mentoring at this critical time in his life… I was able to support him in lots of ways, by giving him information and just connecting him with other people.”
On seeing Sandy and Lucas interact, the school principal was struck by the difference in Lucas. “Honestly, I’ve never seen him like that… it’s like they were from way back, they were just laughing away.” Hearing this was a real gift to Sandy and made her realise that she had also given a gift to Lucas.
Sandy felt that mentoring helped her to understand what young people are going through as well as improving her listening skills,
“the mentor training has taught me to sit back, keep quiet and let somebody else talk and I’ve become very good at that and quite frankly I’m very proud of myself.”
On reflection of this one to one mentoring program, Sandy describes it as an extremely rewarding and humbling experience, and one that she was proud to be a part of because she was able to make a real difference in Lucas’ life. “When you finally get to the end you realise that you’ve got a very different person there than the person you started with… they’re far more outgoing, they’re doing better at school, they’re doing better at home, life has improved for them… and that young person is going to thrive by comparison to who they were coming in.”
Sandy had a tear in her eye when she read out the card that Lucas had written to her after their year of mentoring together. “Dear Sandy, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being a good mentor that helps me get through difficult times, helps me understand my life better. Thank you for making me happy.”
*This is a true story, though names and image have changed to protect privacy.