Ian and Buddy

Ian and his buddy

"I remember when I first met my buddy; I could tell he had a lot to say, he just didn’t know how. He would get excited about topics like Mario Kart but then immediately return to his state of introversion. When thinking about what I wanted to give my buddy through this mentorship I remember thinking I wanted to be a role model, but I also wanted to help him in school, and his relationships, and the list goes on. I started meeting with my buddy every Wednesday after school. Our hangouts range from going to Uncle Games, playing with RC cars, or simply eating out. Since the first time meeting my buddy, our relationship has bloomed. A year ago, I would not even dare to think about how comfortable my buddy could become, I was merely focused on getting to understand and know him; now, his face lights up when he sees my car on his street; he describes the challenges he faces due to his disability, and he tells me about his biggest aspirations in life. The tangible progress my buddy has made through this mentorship has not only been beneficial to him, but it has also taught me the importance of patience and kindness. Mentees in the AFK program face challenges that, to many, are unfathomable. Being a mentor has expanded my lens into the struggles people can face, yet it has also given me a new perspective into how people can find joy through other people. Recounting my years of mentoring and all the lessons I’ve learned, the biggest takeaway for me (and what I think is for most mentors) is: before being a mentor, teacher or role model, be a friend."

"Where do I start?! I don’t know how our son would have fared, had he not had a mentor as great as Ian. He looks forward to his weekly visits with Ian. It is fun to watch him plan what they will be doing for their weekly outing. Before COVID, our son had a blast going to Ian’s home and baking with him. Our son has grown and matured so much because of having Ian as a mentor. We look forward to their continued friendship."

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