I will never forget the first day I meant Mirissa: I can picture her standing outside her classroom, staring down at her feet, blushing a little bit at the introduction. Over a game of Trouble, she filled me in on her life. The next time I saw her, she told me that meeting me last week was the best part of her week because I “remembered to show up.” That’s all it took: I remembered to show up. Over the years, we have played countless games of Mancala (I still am not convinced I’m doing it correctly – I ALWAYS lose), worked on craft projects, participated in dance offs on the playground, made tie blankets for her room, and now we talk about the stress of preparing for high school and dating. Our conversation topics have changed over the years, but that’s not all that has changed: now when I see her, she walks with a confidence and smile that I could not have envisioned several years ago. One thing hasn’t changed, though, I’m still showing up.
People often ask me how I became involved with the mentoring program, because it’s a cause that I am vocal about supporting. The answer is simple: someone told me about it. I had been visiting with my sister about how I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in the community, but it was hard for me to commit to activities in the evening because I had a small child at home at the time. My sister, who happens to be a school counselor, took the opportunity to tell me about the mentoring program. That was it. While my sister does amazing work in the school and is a great advocate for her kids, she simply told me about it.
I’ve now added an additional mentee to the mix, and I’ve started playing Mancala again. I’m still losing at Mancala each week, but more importantly, I know there’s another kid who really looks forward to me “remembering to show up.”