Despite serving the community in a variety of roles, including substitute teaching and coaching, Chris Schveiger, Deputy Sheriff in Fayette County, discovered another way to make a meaningful impact in his community: mentoring. He says, “Being part of the mentoring program really helps the community policing part of my job. They see you working with a child and then also see you patrolling. Getting involved in the community and making those connections helps bridge that gap bet ween police officers and the rest of the community.”
Schveiger connected with North Fayette Valley (NFV) Mentoring Program and was matched with Carter, a somewhat shy 4th grader at the time. At their first match meeting they spent most of their time playing video games with each other to overcome the awkwardness of forced conversation. Later that day, Carter’s mom Eileen called the program coordinator and was excited to report that Carter had a great time with Chris and was looking forward to seeing him again. That day was just the beginning of an amazing relationship.
Over time the two have bonded over their mutual love of the outdoors and sports cars. They might be found fishing at local spots or occasionally tooling around in Schveiger’s Ford Mustang. They have also ventured to a petting zoo, local parks, and college campuses. A favorite experience was riding together in Chris’s squad car during the Homecoming Parade with lights flashing and sirens blaring. “Every day is a new exploration,” says Chris.
The two have built a strong, lasting relationship over the four plus years they’ve had with each other. Chris describes their relationship was being an amalgamation between being a cool uncle and a friend. “I am there to be his friend, but I am also there to advise and teach him. If he has something going on in his life or school, I will definitely tell him what’s up. At the end of the day, I am an adult and I’ll be there to guide him as much as have fun with him.”
Carter's parents have seen a tangible difference in how Carter socializes daily. He’s more outgoing kid, both in and out of school, which is something Chris and Carter's parents find to be an incredibly positive change for Carter.
Carter admires Chris for serving in law enforcement in his community, but also because of how committed he is to spending time with him and teaching him all kinds of things. Chris enjoys the fact that Carter gets excited about all of their outdoor activities and appreciates that he is an outgoing, fun young man. Carter’s parents highly admire how caring, thoughtful, and respectful Chris is as well. Carter’s family has developed a tremendous relationship with Chris, and he feels like family to them. Eileen says that “we know that if we need him, he’s there for us.”
Chris started mentoring originally because he thought he could do more to benefit his community. In the end, he found that he benefitted as well “It shapes me in a way of becoming a better role model for the community. I hope people see me and see what I do for a living, in hopes that others will also think about giving to the community. I mean, there is always room to improve and to give back to your community.”
If you are considering becoming a mentor, Chris’s advice is to “have a willingness to learn and be flexible to have a good relationship with your mentee. Be sure you are willing to learn with them and adjust.”
There are youth mentoring programs across the state like North Fayette Valley Mentoring who are certified by the Iowa Mentoring Partnership as a high-quality program. Schveiger encourages you to give a local program a chance. “Even if it’s a couple hours a month, you are going to change someone’s life. Don’t think about what you can do next week or next year; thank about what you can do right now to make a difference.”
Find out about getting involved in a mentoring program in your area. Become a mentor!