No Excuses Mentoring: What you give is what you get
By Christine Jackson
My plate is full. My schedule is already very tight. I can’t fit another thing into my life. I’m super busy!
All of these are valid excuses for NOT mentoring. But, at some point, when a little bit of time suddenly appears in your schedule, then what will your excuse be? While we are feeding our minds with how hectic our lives are, there are so many young people starving to get a little one-on-one time with one of us!
I came to this realization as I considered whether I could commit to mentor one night a week at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. Of course, I made a mental note of my daily full-time work schedule and all the other items on my to do list. I remembered how exhausted I was after teaching school every day (over 20 years ago). The list of excuses kept growing, but eventually, I made a decision to make a difference.
The factors that lead to students dropping out by ninth grade are well documented. As a parent of two young-adult children, I was familiar with the impact that significant adult relationships had on my children as they navigated through adolescence. I also know first-hand, growing up in D.C.’s Ward 8, how easily a child can slip through the cracks or become a victim of substandard education and low socio-economic conditions. I was fortunate enough to have strong relationships with many adults, especially my parents, who forced me to read books throughout the summer, re-do homework until it was correct, and encouraged me to explore creative writing to express my vivid imagination far beyond the dismal condition of my immediate community that I saw on a daily basis.
So Tuesday nights became more beneficial to me as I saw the faces of Charles, Levon and Andre light up whenever I engaged them in a conversation about their lives. A little game time playing UNO or tackling brain teasers also helps to stimulate a little healthy competition! My momentary weariness quickly fades into their excitement each week. In fact, I know my words of encouragement and affirmation will stay with them long after this mentoring year ends.
It’s rewarding to be among the cadre of mentors who give to the lives of our scholar athletes each week with the realistic expectation that there will be a return on the investment manifested in the productive lives of our mentees!
January is National Mentorship Month, a great opportunity to highlight the work of theWashington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy – a new, state of the art education and recreation facility in Southeast D.C. – where Nats players and community volunteers alike have forged strong mentoring relationships with youth from at-risk communities.
For more information on how you can serve as a mentor at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy please visit: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/youthbaseballacademy/getinvolved.jsp