What makes a Friend great? Their youth! There are so many amazing
things that our youth teach our Friends. Sometimes the things we learn
from mentoring youth are hard lessons, but amidst even the most
difficult conversations and trying times, there is hope.
We talked with a few Friends about what they have learned from their youth.
Mary, Friend/Professional Mentor
"I've learned that there's value in silence. I'm a talker, and with
two of my youth, who are very quiet, if I take a step back and give them
the opportunity to fill that space, they will. Also, there can be a lot
of testing, especially when youth are going through a lot and
experiencing a lot of turmoil. That's when they sometimes push you away
the most. But if you stick with it and keep showing up, you show them
that you have their best interest at heart and genuinely care. Some of
the youth who have tested me the most are the ones I'm now the closest
Auzurea, Friend/Professional Mentor
“Working with kids has taught me how to be creative and use my
imagination. When we’re doing a craft together, one of my youth will use
different colors unexpectedly. Where I would have colored a person’s
hair black, they’re coloring in blue hair or red hair or polka-dot hair.
They teach me the importance of not always staying in the lines. It’s
okay to go outside of the lines and do whatever inspires you. There is
no how it’s supposed to be―it’s how I want it to be. Some youth have no
boundaries. They are free and open. The older you get, the more you
hesitate and have reservations. Like my youth who does her guitar shows
for the office. I would be so anxious to do that. I’ve learned the
importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone to do what you
Louie, Friend/Professional Mentor
"The biggest thing I've learned is a combination of patience and listening.
"One of my youth recently had an emotional breakdown―he’s a 4th
grader―and it broke my heart to see him like that. His teacher called me
and explained that he was crying and shaking, and she couldn’t get him
to calm down. Luckily, I was already at the school, literally just down
the hall. I went straight to the classroom and got my little guy. We
walked and talked for almost an hour before he was able to come back to
"He was carrying all this stress from his family life. I listened to
his stories and relayed to him that as adults, we have to make
decisions, and those decisions have consequences. I expressed to him how
he needed to be a kid first and not focus so much on issues he can’t
change because an adult made choices. He just has to focus on making his
own choices to have a different life.
"I’ve learned how to talk to my youth as a person―not as a kid―and
how to change gears when they are dealing with real-life stress issues.
It’s a heavy adult conversation, but it was something he needed to hear. It
reminded me how hard some of the family environments are that my youth
live in. The conversation definitely brought us closer together. He
feels like he can open up and trust me. I’m someone who is here to just
listen to him. Something he doesn’t really have at home."