How Being a Mentor Changed My Life

How Being a Mentor Changed My Life 

Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been important to me. I love feeling as though I’ve helped change someone’s life, or done something to better the city that I call home. I am surrounded by countless blessings, and in some ways am more fortunate than others, so volunteering is my way to lend a hand when someone or something needs it without wanting anything in return. My junior year of high school was no different. After realizing that I would no longer be able help out on my cheerleading gyms team for athletes with disabilities, I was on the lookout for other non-for-profit organizations that I could join. One day, when I was watching TV in my kitchen, a commercial came on for Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that matches a “Big” or mentor, with an underprivileged youth or “Little” within the community. A website covered the TV screen, and I immediately when to the website and applied to be a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

When I finally heard the news that I had been matched with someone, I was so excited to meet them and start our journey together as Big and Little. My Match Specialist and I filled out some paperwork, and headed over to my Little’s house to go over some guidelines and expectations, and meet for the first time. My Little had a single mom and four other siblings all living in a small condo a few minutes from my house. I really went into this opportunity without knowing what to expect, but my Little and her family was so friendly and welcoming that I knew it was going to be an unforgettable experience for both of us. 

After our introduction, we began meeting once every week for at least an hour, but most of the time it was much longer. We did everything you can think of including getting ice cream, painting pottery, making slime, going swimming, and going to a trampoline park just to name a few. Each time we met, our relationship grew stronger than ever, and we developed a very unique friendship. I learned about her school life, her family, her friends, her hobbies, and her interests. Once we had met a couple of times, she felt comfortable enough to share with me problems she was having at school, with friends, or with her family. I was able to give her some advice and talk her through some solutions to these problems, while also just being a friend to her whenever she needed it. As we continued to meet for two years, we continued to get closer and more comfortable with each other. We explored more places and did more activities around the community, but I also got to mentor her through any tough times she encountered. The closer we got, the more open and willing she was to learn from me. Eventually, my college move-in day crept up faster than I expected, and I had to say goodbye to my Little, but also to my good friend. I promised her that she would soon be rematched with other Big, and would have just as much fun, but I knew it would be tough for both of us. 

Being a Big not only gave me the opportunity to mentor someone in the community, but it also gave me a friendship that I will never forget. By doing activities around the area, I was able to view things from a different perspective, and appreciate everything that I have been blessed with even more. This opportunity, unlike any other volunteer experience I have even participated in, allowed me to really put myself in someone else's shoe, and offer them guidance and reassurance when needed. It helped me to be a better listener, be a better friend, and overall be a better person. I will never forget my experience as a Big for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and hopefully this article encouraged you to find a volunteer program that changes your life as well. Whether its being a mentor, helping the homeless, or building houses for those in need, there are so many different ways and opportunities for anyone to get involved and leave their mark on their community. Lend a hand, and do your part in making this world a better place.