A Life Transformed
Zach Smith is a man who walks the walk. As the CEO of ManUp Iowa, he not only directs the program in West Des Moines but also serves as a mentor. As a former social worker, Zach has seen firsthand the positive effects of mentoring and the unique need for strong male mentors. Zach is a mentoring advocate and backs up his call to action with his own powerful mentoring story.
The mentoring program at ManUp is group-based. Mentors meet weekly with young at-risk boys at local schools in the greater Des Moines area. Mentors focus on encouraging citizenship, healthy choices, and the importance of education. One of Zach’s mentees is Brody Teer.
Before becoming involved in the ManUp mentoring program, Brody was described as a very shy young man. Since entering the program, Zach has seen his demeanor change tremendously as Brody has become more outgoing and inquisitive.
“Brody is a very intelligent boy who is always asking questions. He truly has an amazing teachable spirit and is always looking to learn new things. Brody will without a doubt impress any adult who witnesses his drive and motivation to learn about subjects that most boys have little to no interest in,” says Zach.
Brody’s strong desire to continuously learn new things has allowed Zach to teach him and the other mentees valuable life lessons.
“He’s teaching me to be respectful and responsible,” says Brody.
“[Brody]…exhibits a very compassionate spirit and is one of those kids that would never dream of hurting anyone. For example, he always does a great job of putting others needs before his own shown through his drive to work as a team and help others that may need him,” says Zach.
It is Zach’s influence that has created a lasting change in Brody’s life, and in the lives of Zach’s other mentees. Through their weekly discussions, they learn how to creatively deal with challenges.
“I enjoy watching and assisting Brody and all of my mentees in large group and small group discussions where the topics are about real life situations that help challenge all of the youth to think outside the box and learn new ways to conquer life’s challenges and inevitably climb life’s mountains,” says Zach.
Zach has also created great memories with Brody by spending time with him individually.
“[My favorite memory is] when we went to McDonald’s and Zach bought me a McFlurry and we just talked,” says Brody.
“The one story that will probably remain fresh in my mind for a lifetime is a story about a time I was driving Brody back from a weekly ManUp Group and I asked him a question. The question was the same question that I ask a lot of youth which was: “How do you like the ManUp Program, what do you get out of it and do you like coming to it”? After I asked this question, I immediately saw something was wrong with Brody because he started crying which made me assume something else had happened that I was not aware of. However, when I asked Brody why he was crying, he informed me that he was sad and upset because he thought that I thought he didn’t like ManUp and that was why I asked him that question. He said he loved ManUp and didn’t want me to think anything different than that. That moment was one of the many transformational moments for me where I realized the true impact the program and myself as a mentor was having on mentees that we serve,” says Zach.