Susanne began mentoring with LACF about 7 months ago. She has had the opportunity to mentor a young lady who lives in a group home in Pasadena. Her student is moving out of the area and we wanted to capture her thoughts about her first experience as a mentor.
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I became interested in mentoring while I was working at a transition center for foster youth. I was working in the administrative department and really longed to have more face to face interaction with the youth. I looked up mentoring programs in the area and Lake Avenue Community Foundation was listed. I had visited Lake Avenue Church several times, so I was really excited to become a mentor through their program.
What, if any, were your fears about becoming a mentor?
The biggest fear in the beginning was just the unknowns. I had to completely put my trust and confidence in God, because I did not know where this mentoring relationship would lead.
What were you hoping for?
I was hoping for an opportunity to see God work through me and in my mentee. I also was hoping it would be a learning experience, which it definitely has been.
What do you do with your student?
In the beginning I had to do on campus visits at the group home where she stays. Once my mentee and I felt comfortable together we began doing short one-to-two hour outings in downtown Pasadena. We went to books stores, Target, Starbucks, gardens and enjoyed just walking around and talking. We began to attend the Saturday service at Lake Avenue Church and that has turned out to be an amazing experience for the both of us. The group home also had “family nights,” which I went to and we also enjoyed going to the Legacy event through Lake Avenue Community Foundation. My mentee is moving soon, so we recently did a fun photo shoot and I’m going to make an album as a going away gift.
What do you struggle with as a mentor?
The biggest thing I struggle with is feeling inadequate. I have asked myself several times why I’m doing this. Am I really the best person to be mentoring this child? My Coach helped me so much with these doubts. She reminded me that my role is to be available. I need to step back and just be a witness of what God is going to do in her life.
Are there times with your student that give you hope?
Our relationship has had its up’s and down’s. For about two weeks my mentee didn’t want to see me. There were some behavior issues that were addressed and that was difficult for her. Coming through that trial, though, my mentee showed great maturity in apologizing and wanting to continue our mentoring sessions.
Providing a faith based experience for my mentee has been the best use of our time. My mentee has developed healthy positive relationships with the teachers and other kids in the class at Lake Avenue Church. Sometimes my mentee has asked questions that reveal God is indeed at work in her heart. Again, I had no part in that. I was just available and God used the opportunity to work in my mentee’s life.
Have you seen positive changes in yourself?
This definitely has been a challenging experience, but it has taught me so much about relying on God. I have also been able to just watch in amazement and be a witness to God’s working. That truly is the best part.
Do you have a story you would like to share?
Sometimes the simplest things have been the most fun for me and my mentee. She loves chili cheese fries. I don’t have to always plan a big exciting adventure. Going to church and getting chili cheese fries after has been “our” thing. I think it has been fun and helpful to develop a couple favorite things to do. I know that when my mentee moves she will remember our time together and our talks over a plate of cheesy fries.
If you had the chance, what would you tell someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
If someone is considering becoming a mentor I would just remind them that it will not be their influence that makes the biggest impact. It’s all about being a tool for God to use. Even when I didn’t feel like doing my weekly visit, God used my obedience and commitment. Your mentee will value your commitment more than anything.