What it means to mentor

Don Sebastiani is unabashedly, and unashamedly, a rich guy, although you’d never know it if you ran into him most mornings at Sonoma Market, standing there in his walking shorts and a white visor, studying the New York Times before morning mass at St. Francis Solano Church.

You also wouldn’t know that, for years, he had a semi-secret life mentoring a pod of teenage boys in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, hanging out in a burrito joint with two-to-five guys, letting them drive his Jeep around a vacant lot, taking them to Giants and Warriors games, being a friend, a guide and a vision of possibilities.

In the time between raising his own children and becoming a grandparent to theirs, the elder Sebastiani still had a lot of fathering left in him that needed an outlet.

So he found it mentoring other people’s kids, first through an organization called Up2Us, in San Francisco, and now through the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance.

What he has learned from the experience is that, while mentees clearly get a lot out of the relationship, and years of data confirm the extraordinary impact mentoring has in the lives of at-risk kids, it is at least as rewarding for the mentors.

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