There is a saying I saw recently that struck me as particularly apt: Be the person you needed when you were younger. I never had the fortune of a youth mentor, or any sort of big brother program when I grew up, but the past four years with my mentee makes me wish I did. I was a lonely child who had a less than stable childhood, rife with sickness and some unpleasant memories. I’ve only recently realized the importance of close friendships and support, the joys of stability, and the importance of mentorship. One of the main ways that this happened was through my mentorship of a young man in the community through BCYMP.
I happened upon the program by chance, on recommendation by an Honors 100 Teaching Assistant to get involved in the new campus I found myself at. Having an affinity with working with children, I agreed, and met Aiden, who was 6 years old at the time. By my graduation in May, he will have celebrated his 11th birthday, thereby having me as the positive male role model for half of his young life. When I first met him, he could barely make eye contact or hold conversation with strangers. Now he remembers all of my friends that he’s met by name, knows my roommates, and has the courage to try and teach me Fortnite dances in public (though sometimes I wish it wasn’t so public: you get odd looks in Walmart when you’re dancing down the produce aisle). Watching him grow has been one of the greatest moments of happiness I’ve had in my college career. Pride is not the word I look for when I look at him, for there is so much more inside me now (to paraphrase a line from the Broadway musical Hamilton).
From seeing him play basketball, or run his first (half) marathon, or attempt to explain Minecraft creatures to me, seeing Aiden every week has been one of the most rewarding ways to give back to the community. Being that person that I wish I had (by simply being there and able to let him have fun every week) has taught me so much, and I’m so lucky to have him in my life. I can’t recommend BCYMP enough, they have helped change both myself and Aiden’s life by helping us meet so he has an older brother to take him to the park and I have the younger brother I never had. Be the person you needed when you were younger. It’s so rewarding and it’s a minimum time commitment to impact a child’s life in your community who may desperately need it. A legacy isn’t what you do when you’re alive, it’s who you leave behind and the lives you touch along the way. What better way to improve tomorrow than just to help one person, just one person, be a little bit better than yesterday.
For more information on how to apply to be a BCYMP Mentor, email or call our office. If you’re reach to sign up, please fill out our Mentor Application here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BCYMPMentorApp