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Reflections on Mentoring

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by Kids Hope USA Director, Lorie VanWerden

Lorie’s Kids Hope USA Program – 2017

As my 2nd year of being the Kids Hope USA Director at Second Reformed Church in Grand Haven MI comes to a close it brings me to mood of reflection. I find myself asking, “How did the year go overall? What were the highs and what did I struggle with? Did myself and my team of mentors make the impact in the lives of these students as we shared time with them for an hour, one day a week”?

As I ponder this it brings me back to exactly WHY we do this. What is our motivator? What is it about mentoring that brings us back each week to spend time encouraging these children?  I know what it is for me – I personally have seen the positive effect of showing up each week for the past 3 years as a young girls mentor. I see the joy on her face when I stick my head in the classroom to come and get her. I feel the warmth of her hugs and know she loves it when I hug her back. Knowing we are making a positive difference in a life is really all the motivation needed. Being an encourager and cheering them on and loving them unconditionally gives us a sense that we are doing something good. Even if only for one hour, one day a week, throughout the school year.

One of the joys of being a Kid’s Hope Director is reading the mentoring reports. When I read things like “they were sad when our time was up”,  “they wanted me to come back tomorrow too”,  “my student seems to be very comfortable with me now and is opening up and sharing feelings with me” or “my student asked me if I can mentor them next year too” – that just warms my heart. These relationships are special and not to be taken lightly. Just to have at least one person who believes in them and they can feel important around can be the catalyst to greatness!

Besides a commitment of time, mentoring really is quite simple. One thing I tell my mentors is the importance of a genuine smile – the kind where the corners of your eyes crinkle up and your eyes smile too – a smile that shows the students that they are special, cared for and that they have value. I know that this changes them. Especially how they feel about themselves and I am positive it gives them confidence which can be an anchor in the storms of life. I read the below quote and thought it was the perfect way to end these thoughts on mentoring – it’s TRULY is sometimes as easy as a smile.

A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive them without making poorer those who give them. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yes a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile as much as he who has no more to give. ~Anonymous

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  • Linda Astala

    Our team of mentors and prayer partners can’t wait for school to start so we can meet with our kids. Because we serve a very mobile population, we each knew when we said goodbye to our kids in May we might not see them again. But even as we did, we knew we’d made a difference in their lives. And each of them had made a difference in our lives too.

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