January is National Mentoring Month. So hear this. I mentored a fella starting when he was 12, through his senior year. His school had a mentoring program that called for students to hang out and shadow someone in the workplace and learn about their job. When the program ended, Nick and I kept meeting once a week, often more, and like I mentioned, we kept hanging out until he graduated and left town for college. We're still in touch.
I can tell you, I'm an actor, and Nick hung with me on sets, at radio and television studios, in deal negotiating meetings, and at my live stage shows. He ended up being House Manager for my stage shows quite a few times. Nick is presently in New York City having a good deal of success striking out as a writer and filmmaker. Seems like Nick and my time hanging might have at the least pointed him somewhere in the direction toward what he might end up being interested in and involved with through the rest of his life.
Nick came from a solid family with parents full of strong ideals and attitudes, so time with him wasn't spent presenting the simple fundamentals of life; time with Nick was spent simply being friends.
If I may wholeheartedly choose to use a clich - I learned more from Nick then Nick learned from me ... I'd bet the farm on that.
When folks volunteer they often end up saying something like, "It makes me feel good about myself, like I've contributed something." I'm not into that. I did not offer time mentoring so I could feel good about myself. I offered my time mentoring because ... well, connection is key. Turns out too that I've had some of the best times of my life mentoring.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO.