NATIONAL MENTOR MONTH: Mentor, youth bond over outdoor activities

Note: The Nevada Appeal, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada Mentor Center, are honoring local mentors in January, National Mentor Month.

Having a sense of humor makes everything in life more fun, but with mentoring, it's essential.

Jay Aldrich, 62, has been matched with his mentee, Jaden, since this past spring.

"What I like most in Jaden is his sense of humor," Jay said. "He often has me in stitches. He is very smart and we have a lot of fun."

Jay decided to become a mentor to fill some of the time he had in his schedule. He is a photographer, and knew he had gifts that would help a kid who needed a male to bond with. At the first meeting, Jaden was timid and unsure of the friendship potential with Jay; however, over time the two have become inseparable. Jay has become a friend to Jaden's entire family, and credits time spent together during fall soccer and summer evenings as helping this happen.

When asked to share a favorite story about time with Jaden, Jay said, "There is no favorite story. Each time we go out has been so much fun that I cannot pick one."

They like to spend time doing outdoors things like exploring the environment, snowshoeing, fishing, and stargazing (they're both amateur scientists). Jay attends Jaden's sporting events, and Jaden always knows that he has someone to go to who will support him no matter what. They work on problem-solving, self-reflection, and having fun every time.

Jay had worked with youths before many years ago, and this experience had always stuck with him as an important way of giving back to the community. So many boys just need an extra man to look up to and count on - Jay and Jaden have formed this sort of friendship slowly through the activities that they both enjoy.

Jay encourages others to become mentors because, "it's a blast!"

• Bridget Gordon is the outreach specialist for the Boys & Girls Clubs Mentor Center.


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