Sometimes you mentor on purpose and sometimes you impact a life you don’t even know about.
In my relentless need to be bite off more than I can chew, I signed up to be a mentor to a child with an incarcerated parent. Even though I have a demanding schedule with working a full-time job, taking care of a family, participating in community service projects and writing whenever I can find the time, I felt compelled to add this to my to do list. You see, I know personally the advantages of having good mentors in your life. Unfortunately, I am also well aware that it can sometimes be difficult to find suitable role models in one’s own family.
To participate in the mentorship program, I and the other volunteers had to attend a training session. During the training session, the instructor asked us to tell her who some of our mentors were. Not surprisingly, most of the participants responded that their mother, father, grandmother or a teacher was their mentor. One lady even hollered out that Hilary Clinton had inspired her. However, the instructor felt that our answers were too general. She said that a mentor is someone that has significantly impacted our lives and is thus someone we know personally. Therefore, she wanted us to name names.
Although, the instructor’s point is well taken, I take exception to her ideology. I believe we potentially impact people’s lives everyday, whether we know it or not. I have been inspired and uplifted by people whose names currently escape me. I have even been encouraged by complete strangers.
That’s why we have to be extremely careful how we carry ourselves. People, especially children, are always watching. And the little ones are apt to mimic our behaviors. I truly believe a kind word here and there can make all the difference in the world to someone who never hears one. And never underestimate the power of a warm smile.
For those of you who don’t share my incessant need to constantly be torn in a million directions and can’t participate in a formal mentoring program, please do one thing today to make a difference in another person’s life, whether you know them personally or not. Those of you who would like to make a positive and measurable impact in a child’s life, please consider signing up for the National Mentoring Program and taking a child of an incarcerated parent under your wing.