by Mariah Himes
When Enrique signed up to be a mentor through the Job Foundation, he didn’t know that he would learn as much from his mentee as the boy would from him. Brandon was signed up to have a mentor as he took financial literacy courses through the Foundation with other kids struggling to grow up in poverty. Through this organization, middle and upper-class adults mentor young, at-risk youth in their community.
From the beginning, Enrique was impressed by Brandon’s commitment to learning: “Brandon is such a sharp and quick learner! The Job Foundation seeks to encourage and teach sound financial skills and decision making - and Brandon absorbs these lessons very quickly! He responds very well when I tell him how bright I think he is!”
Brandon loves learning and spending time with his mentor. “[Enrique has taught me to] play baseball, [has taught me] money lessons, and [has taught me that it is good to compare items when shopping].”
When they’re not working through financial lessons together, Enrique and Brandon enjoy being outdoors and eating food: “We've played ball, gone out to eat ice cream, went to a children's theater, we've watched games on TV at Buffalo Wild Wings, raked leaves, done [The Job Foundation] Financial Lessons, etc. But my favorite activity is when Brandon feels safe enough - to just talk. I love it most when he opens up - and asks questions or just shares with me what is really going on in his young life,” says Enrique.
As Brandon develops financial literacy skills under Enrique’s mentoring, Enrique has his eyes opened to the difficulties young people face living in poverty. “My heart has grown more caring and passionate toward financially underprivileged families and communities. So many have it so tough!” He adds, “Brandon's world is very challenging. It's hard to be a ‘good kid’ when so much in his life is negative and difficult and full of struggle. Brandon is learning that ‘fighting’ is not just about punching or kicking - but standing firm for what you believe in and want.”
Enrique adds, “I try and to ask questions about his life—and I try to just listen—especially when he shares honestly about what he is thinking and feeling and learning.” Like many mentors, Enrique adds, “I wish I spent more time with Brandon than I actually do!”
Nonetheless, Enrique and Brandon show how a positive mentoring relationship can bring out the best in both mentor and mentee. “Even a little bit of your time and availability can have a positive life-altering and affirming effect on a young life and heart. The sooner a healthy and authentic relationships is built, the better—because it seems that kids grow up ‘harder and faster’ than they ever have!”
Be a life-altering, affirming adult in a young person’s life by clicking here to become a mentor today!