What inspired you to become a mentor?
I’ve always believed in volunteering. Not only do I have the opportunity to help other people but it broadens my view and helps me feel more connected to a larger community. I hadn’t done any volunteer work in several years. As a successful, married gay man without children, I realized that my life was great but I had a desire to be a support for kids who may be struggling. It especially felt important to be there for LGBTQ kids when bullying seems to be an epidemic.
What has been the most rewarding moment of being a mentor?
Last year I took my mentee to my job where he was able to get career counseling and feedback on his resume. My mentee was definitely much more interested in video games and hanging out than in trying to get a job. But he showed up dressed well and with a new haircut. I provided him with an opportunity and he surpassed my expectations in taking advantage of the situation…
What have you learned from your mentees?
The biggest thing is that by respecting who they are I get the respect back and I don’t feel like I have to play any particular roles with them, rather, just be myself…
For those who are thinking about mentoring, what would you say to them that would convince them it’s worth their time?
The great thing about Mentoring USA is that it is site-specific mentoring. You get a lot of support from the other people at the site and you actually get to interact with more than just your assigned mentee. Organizationally, the site supervisors does most of the ground work, so all you need to do is show up and work with your mentee. Mentoring USA makes it easier for everyone to get the most out of the experience. It makes me feel like my time is being used for what I really want to be doing — interacting with my mentee.