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Liam spends quality time with Brandon during one of his weekly visits. (Photo: Amelia Kunhardt, The Patriot Ledger)
How One Mentor Can Make a Difference
"For kids who are at risk, the number one factor for them being healthy is to have a caring, consistent relationship with an adult, someone they can call theirs," states Jeremy Gobeil, Director of the Baird Center. "It helps their self-esteem and gives them hope."
One such person is Liam Walsh, one of The Home’s star mentors. He is also a rarity. Liam started volunteering at The Home five years ago and has mentored 17-year old Brandon for the past two years.
Although Liam lives in Dallas, he works in Boston and makes time to visit Brandon once a week. Liam follows Brandon’s lead and stresses the importance of sticking to a regular routine. He takes Brandon to the mall in Walpole where they look at stores - Brandon likes the bookstores - and then they usually have dinner at Outback Steakhouse afterwards. Perhaps the most obvious thing the two share is a wonderful sense of humor.
Brandon, who was originally at Longview Farm and is now at the Coldwell Banker Community Living Program, has been in and out of institutions his whole life and always lacked a role model until Liam came along. The two have such a good bond now that Brandon has made gifts for Liam in wood shop and recently saved up especially to give him a Starbucks card. When Brandon received a limousine ride for his sixteenth birthday, he asked Liam to join him and read aloud to him during the ride (Brandon struggles with reading).
Liam’s advice to people who want to be mentors is to keep an open mind, find out what the child you are mentoring wants to do and what their interests are. "Brandon’s a great kid and it’s great to see him grow up. An important ingredient in helping him is to give time and attention. I’d encourage people to get involved. It takes patience, compassion and consistency, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you can have."
Liam is VP for Finance (Products & Hospital Group) at Fresenius Medical Care North America, based in Lexington. Liam has involved his company in the giving as well. Fresenius donated fitness equipment to one of our residential programs, and Liam and his colleagues took part in the Rodman Ride for Kids a few years ago, raising $10,000 for The Home.