As a new mother, Megan Haffey, 25, has been looking at her own life, evaluating her past choices and where she hopes to go. When she thinks of her future, of the kind of mom she wants to be, she thinks of Ruth Gordon.
“Strong, she’s always been strong,” Haffey said. “Honest. And hopeful. She believes in people, even if they’re not at their best in that moment.”
Gordon, the director of the Mentor Center of Western Nevada, became Haffey’s mentor when Haffey was 15. Ten years later, the two are still close.
“I’m just there for her, and she knows that,” Gordon said. “She knows that no matter what, I love her.”
And now, she’s hoping to find more volunteers to fill a similar role. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada Mentor Center has been forced to reduce its staffing from three full-time employees to one, and its office hours of operation to 15 hours a week. At the same time, school has school has started and referrals are coming in.
The Mentor Center has 108 young people matched with adults. However, there is a list, that continues to grow, of 15 children who are in need of mentors.
“It’s not that they’re bad kids,” Gordon explained. “It’s not that they have bad parents. They just need someone else.”
Nicole Kennedy said she could have used a mentor when she was a teenager.
“I got into things I probably wouldn’t have gotten into if I would have had a mentor,” Kennedy said.
So she has decided to become one herself.
“I’ve always said once I was done with school, I wanted to work with kids,” she said. “It’s just rewarding. It’s good to be a positive influence for a child.”
Kennedy said she and her husband could serve as models for a healthy relationship.
“It’s a marriage,” Kennedy said. “It’s a family. We’re a team.”
She and her husband own three dogs and spend much of their free time outside, hiking, biking, skiing and doing other activities.
Gordon said those interests will factor into what child is ultimately paired with the couple.
“I look at the needs of the child,” she said. “I look at what the interests are of the child and what are the interests of the mentor. I go with my gut, what’s going to connect them. That’s what’s going to make that relationship work.”
Sometimes, she said, it’s just compatible personalities. That’s how she chose Haffey the day she met her in the office of her probation officer.
“She was spunky, a little mouth,” Gordon recalled. “I thought, ‘She’s a smart aleck, but she’s just got something.’”
Getting into the routine of caring for her 3-week-old baby, Kylan, Haffey sent Gordon a text message.
“Thank you for being you,” she wrote. “It blows me away that someone cares about me the way you do. I love you so much and am blessed to have you in my life. You’ve shown me how to be a responsible young woman, to love myself and know that I am worth it.”