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Mentoring Casts Net of Giving

November 21, 2011

Monica, right, with mentee Crystal

Monica Richardson recently was nominated for a Mary Catherine Strobel Volunteer Award, hosted by HandsOn Nashville. Mary Catherine Strobel was a community volunteer who led charitable efforts to serve others who were less fortunate. The awards were created in honor of Strobel.

“There were so many amazing people there with amazing stories,” Monica said. “I was so honored to be there.”

Only a few years before, she had little interest in being a mentor. Monica was a foster parent trainer and recruiter for Youth Villages in the Clarksville office. She now works with Phoenix Homes adoption services in Nashville.

“At Youth Villages, being a mentor was talked about a lot,” she said. “But I kept telling myself I didn’t have the time.”

She’d only been with Youth Villages for a few weeks when she was warned to be on the lookout for a girl who’d run away. The story, as Monica tells it, begins when Crystal, then about 13, showed up at the Clarksville office.

“She needed a mentor,” she said. “We kind of connected right there.”

“Monica’s like a big sister to me,” Crystal said. “She helps me out with everything.”

They’ve had to scale back their visits to once a month because they live so far apart. But they stay close by phoning weekly, sometimes more. They’ve been together going on three years.

Monica says her personal and spiritual journey is about learning. And in dealing with others through social services and mentoring, she has great opportunities.

“I’m able to learn so much from others and their stories,” Monica said. “Even as Crystal has matured and become more of an adult, I still learn about what’s important to her and what her priorities are.”

Learn how you can become a mentor at www.youthvillages.org/mentor.

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