Even a Few Minutes Make a Difference

Our blog post this week comes from Lindsay Kohler, Partners in Routt County’s School-Based Mentoring Program Manager. Lindsay approaches her fifth year with Partners with a multitude of different hats over the years. Lindsay came to Partners initially as an AmeriCorps School-Based Mentor working as a mentor in Steamboat Springs Middle School. She then took on the role of Partners’ AmeriCorps VISTA Developmental Assisant,  implementing capacity building strategies and grant writing. Now over the past two years, Lindsay has become a member of the senior staff and continues to expand and improve the School-Based Mentoring Program. Here is what Lindsay had to say about her experience with mentors growing up:

As adults who care about the future of our youth, we often find ourselves asking: “Is this helping? Am I truly making an impact?” I believe that we often have a much bigger impact than we think, even if we simply give our attention and listening ear to a child or teenager just once, for only a few minutes.

I was asked to consider someone who mentored me when I was growing up.  My childhood was less than ideal in many ways and while a mentor would have benefitted me, I can honestly say I never had a consistent adult to go to with my problems, to simply spend time with, or to look up to and emulate.  What I did have, however, was a few caring teachers who gave me a few minutes of their time.

My junior year of high school was an especially difficult one.  I was experiencing the perfect storm of puberty, a difficult family situation, and a genetic predisposition to depression.  I remember suddenly bursting into tears at the end of chemistry class one day for no apparent reason.  My teacher, Mr. Heinz, allowed me to sit in his office for a full class period to calm myself.  He listened to me talk about what was going on without judging me, handed me some tissues, let me take some deep breaths, and gave me a pass to my next class.  My English teacher, Mrs. Kohler, spent a solid twenty minutes with me one day just chatting about what was happening in my life because she could see that I was struggling.  In both of these classes I was falling behind or neglecting to turn in assignments because of what was going on in my personal life, and yet neither of these teachers labeled me or treated me like a delinquent. 

To this day, I do not remember what Mr. Heinz or Mrs. Kohler said to me, but I do remember how good it felt to have someone simply pay attention and offer their empathy.  Neither of them have any idea how much those few moments meant to me then and still do when I look back on it, and I will likely never have the opportunity to thank them.

I offer this story as a reminder to all of the mentors, friends, aunts, uncles, neighbors and other caring adults out there that while you may not think it matters, even just a few minutes of your time may mean the world to the youth that you see is struggling; even if they can never thank you for it.

We are so fortunate to have Lindsay on our staff, as she is an exemplary example of a mentor. Thank you for all you do, Lindsay!

Check back next week for our new bi-lingual case manager, B Torres’s, mentoring story!

Comments

  1. Lindsey Novak says

    I met Lindsay during our first year together as mentors and roommates with Partners. During that time, as we were all facing challenges in our mentoring program- it was clear that Lindsay was dedicated to the cause through her words and her actions with her mentees and among our cohort of mentors. Since that time,from afar, I have witnessed Lindsay’s dedication, work ethic, motivation and desire to be a part of the Partners team and making a difference in young people’s lives. Lindsay has also showcased these characteristics in her personal pursuits with running, hiking, rock climbing, skiing…. and all things outdoors,really. It is apparent that Lindsay is an incredible role model for any young person and has been an asset to the Partners team since the day we arrived in Steamboat back in 2008. Well done Lindsay, congrats on all your achievements- they are well deserved 🙂