Every day in communities across the country, caring adults volunteer their time with mentoring programs to create consistent and supportive relationships to young people. At its most basic level, mentoring is successful in real life because it guarantees a young person has an adult to turn to and that they have a guiding hand to help them in dealing with day-to-day challenges. At a more complex level, there is a powerful mentoring effect that ultimately makes our communities stronger.
Hundreds of Lowcountry youth have moved through our program and have graduated from high school and beyond. This last week of National Mentoring Month will be dedicated to telling our amazing alumni stories, a true testimony of the power of mentoring.
Walt Wake met his mentee Aaron in middle school and continues to communicate with him even after he has graduated from high school. Take a heart warming glimpse into what the pair are doing now and how mentoring has made an impact in their lives.
"I am so glad to hear from you at Be A Mentor. The small amount of time I invested in the program while in Charleston created some of the best memories of our life there. Now that I am semi-retired and live in Colorado, I dearly miss all you folks back East but plan to find a similar program here in the greater Denver area.
Happy Mentoring Month. Aaron and I spoke on Christmas Eve. He brought me up to date with what's going on in his life. From the first time we met, he always expressed a strong desire to serve his country. So one of the first things he and I discussed was how to get the opportunity to serve and protect the United States. WE decided that he would need a high school diploma to be eligible to enlist. And to graduate, we would need to raise our grades. So the path to success really boiled down to applying one's self and completing and turning in homework assignments. Thus the game plan was created and began with a decision to be the best that he could be. Aaron joined JROTC while still in Charleston and continued his training after moving to North Carolina where he graduated from High School in the Charlotte area this past June. Aaron reported for US Army boot camp but unfortunately had his Armed Forces career cut short due to an injury. Upon his recovery, he plans to apply his leadership skills in a law enforcement career.
So you see, my friends, a young man learned to make good decisions and discovered a determination from within that turned his life around. How did this happen? Because the Rick Hendrick Automotive Group and other local businesses and faith communities partnered with Be A Mentor and Charleston area school districts to positively influence the lives of young students. By encouraging people to invest a lunch break almost every week or become involved in one of the other programs, this partnership has given countless students a hand up rather than a hand out. Aaron now knows that goals are carved in stone but plans are subject to change. Why? Because a friend of his stood by him and convinced Aaron Olofsson that someone cares.
In closing, Ms. Bonnie and I hope to remain in contact with Aaron and be there for him and share some of his happy life events in the future. And he made a promise to find an "Aaron" in his life and pay it forward. I anticipate hearing that story and many more."
Hendrick Auto Group also reconnected with the pair a few years ago read their story here.