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Just one caring adult in a child’s life increases the probability a child grows into a productive adult. That caring adult doesn’t always have to be a parent. It could be a grandparent, an aunt or uncle; and many times it is a mentor.
Ade, 24, understands the impact a caring adult can make on a child’s life and saw the difference he made as a tutor while completing his undergraduate degree in Florida. “I have a passion for serving my community,” he shared as he spoke of his own childhood in Botswana, a country in southern Africa. Soon after moving to Boston to pursue his doctorate in Chemical Engineering, Ade knew he wanted to get involved in his new community. He connected with one of The Home’s group homes in Boston.
Matched with Caleb, age 11, Ade began his first one-on-one mentoring relationship in September. Caleb is a shy young man but has slowly opened up to his mentor he sees once a week. Recently, Caleb, a young man of color, brought up a very serious subject to Ade: racial profiling and police violence against young men who look like him. Ade talked with Caleb about the importance of being the bigger, more mature man in the situations he faces; may it be with friends, classmates, police, or teachers. If Ade wasn’t in Caleb’s life, the young man may have had no one to ask about such an important topic which affects him daily. Caleb’s questions caused Ade to “look at the world through a different lens,” a task often difficult for any adult.
Mentoring isn’t always just serious questions; it can be a whole lot of fun. During the holiday season, Ade and Caleb went and saw Polar Express in 4-D and a lightening show at the Museum of Science. A typical trip in the city for most kids was a first time and thrilling experience for Caleb. “It was awesome to see him get excited about science,” said Ade remembering how much fun they had that day. Ade really enjoys his time with Caleb, it is a portion of his week where he can hang out and be a kid again. It gives him the opportunity to focus positively on something more than his routine of school and work. Most importantly, the consistency of their relationship helps Caleb rebuild trust in others which can be difficult for youth who have experienced trauma.
Becoming a mentor needs to be a deliberate decision, “It is not just a task. It can lead to a lifetime commitment. I think about how I will be helping Caleb ten years down the road.” It is a relationship that can change the path of a child’s life. “I think of Caleb as my friend… we have fun together and both learn from one another.”