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Mentoring relationship comes full circle

June 11, 2013
Youth Villages Mentor Melanie (right) takes a break from Zumba with her mentee, Melissa

Youth Villages Mentor Melanie (right) takes a break from Zumba with her mentee, Melissa

Written by Melanie Manns, Youth Villages mentor

"The amazing thing I continue to learn most of all about the mentoring experience is that you receive more than you give."

“The amazing thing I continue to learn most of all about the mentoring experience is that you receive more than you give.”

I’ve been a mentor with the Youth Villages’ Mentoring program for more than four years, and it’s been a rewarding experience for me. I’ve always had a desire to give back and to be a positive agent of change in the child welfare system. With the knowledge that nearly 30,000 young adults are aging out of foster care each year, I desired to do more and get involved as a mentor. In addition to my professional experience in the field, I know all too well the difficult journey of these young people from my own personal experience.

The amazing thing I continue to learn most of all about the mentoring experience is that you receive more than you give. It’s completely rewarding to spend quality time with remarkable young people who despite troubling conditions, are so determined, smart and talented.

My mentee and I spend time once or twice a month, usually on the weekends, when I take her on outings. However, one of my most memorable moments was when my mentee unexpectedly called me early on the morning of my birthday and serenaded me by singing happy birthday. It was the first call I received that day. She did not know that I had recently lost a loved one who was not only a mentor, but a mother figure to me when I was aging out of foster care. This special person would call me every year early in the morning on my birthday and she would serenade to me singing happy birthday! I had thought this birthday would be a sad one, as it would be the first birthday that would not start with the normal call from my dear loved one. Instead, I was reminded of my loved one in a special way, as, unknown to my mentee, she comforted me through her random act of kindness and expression of love. This is one of the many examples of rewards that have come out of my mentoring relationship. For me, what started off as a mentoring relationship developed into a friendship.

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