Mentoring is life-changing experience
Tina Baldry (left) with mentee, Janeth on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz during a trip down the coast.
My mentee, Janeth, and I met in December 2004. Eight years later, we are still going strong and enjoying new adventures together. Janeth and I began our journey at the Flowery Mentor Center during her fifth grade year. As our relationship grew, I was inspired to help Janeth find her passion, see herself as a valuable person who has a voice, and to give her support as she faces life’s challenges.
Along the way, she brought out the best in me, too. Janeth has a way of making me slow down and truly enjoy the time we spend together. She also helps me become a better listener. When I actually listened, I discovered her strengths, kindness, loyalty and deep dedication to her family and friends. That’s the surprise in mentoring; you grow more than you ever imagined.
We spend time going to movies, hanging out at my house, sharing stories and attending all of the many Stand By Me Program activities. We traveled to the Central Coast and to Tahoe where Janeth met her first bear. But, our biggest adventure was our trip to Mexico to see Janeth receive her quinceanera. My husband, Ernie, and I spent a week with Janeth’s family in their hometown of Uriangato. It was an experience of a lifetime, filled with family, friends, tradition, culture and lots of pork. Since our trip to Mexico, our families have grown close and embrace each other with love and respect.
Janeth expressed her mentoring experience in a letter she wrote to the Mentoring Alliance as she graduated from high school. It brought tears to my eyes and meant the world to me. Here is an excerpt from that letter:
“Tina is one of the greatest people who has influenced me and has never let me down. My mentor gave me the courage to be heard and has taught me the value and importance of communication. I have become a confident, radiant person for which I ‘blame’ and thank Tina. She has given me hope and has opened my eyes to a world that I didn’t even know existed. Mentoring has widened my horizons and exposed me to a huge variety of activities, life experiences, community and professionals. These special moments have helped form me into the person I am today; a young woman who is attending college and discovering what her future will bring.”
Growing a mentoring relationship takes time, it runs deep; it is a life-shaping experience that changes lives for the better. It has certainly changed mine.
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Tina Baldry is the art and program director for the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.