A mentor moment … Young man makes a difference
Special to the Appeal
As though it were nothing, Paul took it on for his senior project. A requirement for graduation at Carson High School, the senior project requires students demonstrate their ability to conceptualize an idea, devise a plan, work it, and provide both a written and verbal interpretation to members of the community.
At 17, Paul Young agreed to accept this challenge as his senior project.
It came about while dining at a restaurant with his family. A family friend discussed the mentor program with Paul’s step-father as they ate. Overhearing the conversation, Paul inquired about the requirements for being a mentor.
“Am I too young,” He asked? “Do I have what it takes to mentor another boy?”
His friend thought he would do well at this, so Paul began immediately to plan his senior project.
Paul began his mentoring Jacob Batchelor in September 2004, his senior year, through the Mentor Center run by Western Nevada Community College. He will not turn 20 until September, but, by then, he and 13-year-old Jacob, will be celebrating their second anniversary together.
Paul is now at the beginning of his sophomore year at the University of Nevada, Reno. To see how effective Paul has been as a mentor, I asked Jacob’s grandmother for her impressions.
“Before Paul came into Jacob’s life, Jacob was confused, angry and performed poorly in school and at home,” his grandmother told me. “He was always getting into trouble. Paul began meeting with Jacob every Saturday, and he didn’t let him down once. A short time after Paul came into his life, Jacob made a transformation. His grades in school improved, and today he gets As in all of his subjects. His behavior also straightened out, so that is no longer a problem. I can’t say enough about Paul.”
Paul says, “all someone needs to be effective as a mentor is compassion for those in need and the desire to help them. Jacob and I usually meet between one and four hours each week. Our activities vary from bowling, playing with the dogs, taking hikes or bicycle rides to board games. We especially like checkers and the challenge of a game cube, but do just about anything. What you do isn’t as important as the desire to help.”
When asked what his greatest reward is for mentoring, he responds, “the satisfaction of making a contribution, giving of myself.”
He doesn’t say much about his approach to mentoring, but encourages others to join in the effort and adds, “only if they feel a commitment to the program.”
Jacob, describes himself as having been troubled and with a poor attitude when he and Paul first met. He admits to having been an underachiever.
I asked him what qualities Paul has demonstrated over time.
“Paul is a good listener. He encourages me to make good changes in my life, but most of all, he’s dependable and a good friend. I know my grades and attitude have improved with Paul’s encouragement.”
As I observed Jacob, I thought to myself, yes, he is a changed young man. There Jacob stood with a huge smile on his face, looking up at Paul.
What do you aspire to as an adult, Jacob?
“I want to be a street cop.”
How would you describe yourself?
“I’m a little bit selfish, but an awful lot of fun.”
We invite you, too, to bring out the best in a child by volunteering to be a mentor. An hour each week with a one year commitment can change two lives, yours and theirs. Call Ruth Gordon or Bill Bley at the Mentor Center of Western Nevada. Telephone: 445-3346 or 445-3282; or visit the Web site http://www.wncc.edu/mentor.
• Bill Bley is IMPACT Coordinator for the Mentor Center of Western Nevada.