In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to profile one of our mentors who serves his community by mentoring as well as serving our nation. We are so proud to have several mentors who serve our country! Brent Garner is one of six South Dakota Air National Guard staff members who mentor.
Brent has mentored Thomas for nearly five years. The two clicked right away and do not intend to stop anytime soon. Thomas, who is an 8th grader this year, was very excited to hear that mentors and students can continue to meet in high school.
When asked what they like about their meetings, they both said just sitting and talking as well as drawing. They talk about family, life, goals, the future, sports and cars. “It is great to see the differences in Thomas through the years,” said Brent. “He always remembers to meet me and is always excited to see me. It makes it all worthwhile.”
Thomas is incredibly fond of Brent. He had no hesitation when he said that Brent inspires him to do better. “He makes me feel like I have another friend,” said Thomas. “He is awesome. Having a mentor is a lot of fun.”
Brent got involved with the program when a fellow member of Celebrate Church mentioned the program and said she had students at Cleveland Elementary that really could benefit from the program. Brent was on board right away. “I wish I would have had a mentor growing up,” said Brent. “It gives kids a different perspective from their parents telling them.”
When describing his childhood, Brent talked about being a target of bullying and getting picked on. As he was talking, Thomas was nodding his head in understanding and said he has experienced the same thing. Thomas then said that Brent has given him lessons on behavior and choices that have helped him.
Both Brent and Thomas agree that there needs to be more mentors. “I know kids who want a mentor,” said Thomas. Brent went on to add, “We all know kids who need a mentor. One hour a week is not much compared to the rewards you get.”