Ten years ago I decided to become a mentor. I volunteered because I wanted to give back to my community. What I didn’t realize at the time was that becoming a mentor was going to become such an important part of my life. There are so many positive things I could say about the relationship that developed between me and the young woman today who is now 19 and who I consider my sister. Because she let me be a part of her journey I have had the amazing experience of watching her grow into a young, resilient woman.
I was matched with my sister 11 years ago. I had never been a mentor before and had no idea what I was supposed to do. I remember we often just went to McDonalds for a Happy Meal and played and talked. I also remember taking her to the ocean for the first time and the look of curiosity on her face the first time she touched a starfish. As well, I remember the times that she called me crying because she had nobody else she could trust. Through all the good and bad times in her life, I have been there for her.
Even though we have not been part of a formal mentoring program the past six years, we remain connected. As she makes her mark on the world as a young adult, she still knows that I am always only a phone call away. She also knows that the traditions we created will stay the same no matter how old she is or how far away she is. Through our relationship, I have learned how important it is to be there for someone unconditionally. I have learned that it is not the big extravagant gifts that matter, but it is the moments spent together laughing and crying that do. I have learned that family is not defined by blood, but instead by the people who are there for you. I may have started as her mentor, but now we call each other sister.
If you have thought about being a mentor in the past, consider joining the Wonder Mentoring Program. Your time and support can impact the life of a child living in foster care. Contact Sierra Forever Families at sierraFF.org to learn about our Wonder program.
Adele Gray is a Youth Permanency Worker at Sierra Forever Families