Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mentoring ... Big Brother without the Testosterone?

I have “always” been aware of the blessed state of my life ( see my blog post Giving Thanks ) and interested in “giving back” to the community. I volunteer at my church ( see my blog post Making of a Volunteer for the start of a story about that ), and I help when and where I am able. I have also, now and then, thought about being a “big brother.”

This has always implied to me things that are laced with testosterone … coaching him in athletics, taking him fishing, hunting, swimming, and to all manner of sporting events ( and the more violent – think NFL and college football – the better ), and possibly even showing him how to box and use a handgun. You know, being a big brother. None of these things is me. For better or worse. This need for high testosterone levels has kept me from even looking into being a “Big Brother.”

A staff member at my parish sent me an email, advising me the parish is starting a mentoring program for formerly homeless people now in college and urged me to consider becoming a mentor in the program.

This sounded like a “Big Brother” thing — without the testosterone — and the email immediately piqued my attention/interest. I went to talk to her about it … sure enough, the mentors are to help with things such as budgeting, studying ( not tutoring … but helping figure out study habits that work, and how to study, making sure the student knows how to get tutoring help if that is actually necessary ), time management, accountability, and so forth. We’re to help with skills that most people who’ve been to college take for granted. Testosterone level not relevant.

And, although I’ve graduated from college and believe I have, and can teach, most of these skills, I’m suddenly not certain I can mentor. Anyone who’s been homeless has street-smarts that I’ll never have and skills that I’ll never learn. Would I have any credibility with him? Who am I to teach her anything?
And yet … and yet, the draw is there. I feel a pull to this task. Some fear, too; I wonder if I can actually do it. But, putting my faith in my God ( the source, I am sure, for the pull in the first place ), I will pursue this opportunity. His strength and wisdom will sustain me when my own resources fail. The initial meeting for interested persons is January 09. I will keep you posted.
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