Carla Rich has always wanted to be a mentor. Since graduating college, Carla has worked in the community, with adolescents and their families. Through her work as a therapist, she finds herself building connections with young people, as she helps them to make strides that improve their life and well-being. Due to the nature of her job however, she cannot continue those relationships beyond their therapy sessions. And sometimes that can be heartbreaking. Carla wanted the opportunity to continue to make an impact in a young person’s life. “I just need to find a different route to get there,” she thought. So she looked into becoming a mentor.
The challenge was Carla couldn’t find a program that worked for her. “Every time I looked into different programs, I felt like the time commitment was just so much.” And then she learned about the Lifespan Mentoring Program. The program matches Lifespan employees with students from the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex (JSEC) and Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School. The commitment: mentors meet with their mentees a minimum of one hour per month. To Carla, that was definitely doable.
That was two years ago. Carla was matched up with an 11th grade student from JSEC, Ashley, who is now looking forward to graduating in June. They meet every month at the school, and sometimes outside of the school. One time Carla took Ashley out to her favorite breakfast spot before school. That’s Ashley’s favorite memory of Carla.
Carla wondered if meeting just once a month was making a real difference. Even though Ashley hasn’t been shy about expressing her gratitude, Carla says “you still sometimes feel like you’re not making an impact. And it may be that we’re measuring things differently. When you see them struggling academically, you’re like “Oh, I’m failing as a mentor”. But maybe that’s not what they’re getting from you. Maybe it’s the support about family stuff or the fact that she can send me a text message, even about school or about work, and I answer. And that’s what she needed.” Ashley admits that she might not have been looking forward to graduation if it wasn’t for Carla. “I feel like she’s given me the support that I’ve kind of been missing, because there have been a lot of things going on. Plus senior year is kind of stressful too. And with things going on at home, you know, not everybody has the time of day to be supportive through everything. But she’s been able to give me the support.”
Ashley’s final word: “I hope other people sign up to be mentors too.”
Listen to Ashley and Become a Mentor today! We have 900 kids on waiting lists throughout Rhode Island! Contact Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!