LSS is blessed to have volunteer mentors from over 100 different employers. We are incredibly thankful that area businesses recognizes the important contributions their employees can make by investing in the life of a child. For the past few years, one employer has consistently held the top spot for the number of mentors who work for their organization.
First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard has over 50 employees who faithfully mentor a student each week. In addition to their great support of the program in terms of volunteers, we are also appreciative of their financial support of the annual mentor appreciation breakfast. They are longtime sponsors of the event and we would not be able to hold it without their contribution.
Most of all though – PREMIER employees are amazing mentors. Here are a few stories from them that are too good to not share!
I have been mentoring for over 6 years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I am fortunate that First PREMIER/PREMIER Bankcard allows me to use my lunch time to meet with my mentee once a week during the school year. I believe that mentoring promotes positive developmental outcomes for youth and provides an outlet for real life discussions. Plus there is nothing like a warm welcome from a second grader who greets you as he leaves his classroom ready to share about his week. I originally thought that I would be benefiting a child when I volunteered to mentor; however, it was me who is receiving the benefit.
I’ve been mentoring for 14 years, the last 10 years have been spent with the same student. From the beginning, he was quiet, kind and respectful. The moment I knew I was making a difference was at the end of our second year together. We met for the final visit of the year and he forgot to give me his year end appreciation gift that he had made. I received a call from the school telling me that he was crying and the only word he could say was my name. The school asked me to stop by the following day. He gave me the gift and a big hug. I reminded him that I was looking forward to meeting with him again the following year. Over the years, I’ve visited with him during some of his most difficult times. All I was able to do was listen and encourage. Today, while he still struggles with his studies at times, he has improved a great deal. He is far less shy and excels in band. We have more and more conversations about things that truly matter in life. It has been amazing watching him mature and become a young man with so much potential. I am thankful to PREMIER and the leadership team for not only allowing, but encouraging this community outreach initiative. It truly makes a difference.
Like many mentors, I’ve often wondered how one hour a week could possibly make a difference. But when I look back on my journey, I can see that it really has. I was matched with a beaming first grader who was asking the school counselor when she would get to meet her mentor the first time I met with her. I was delighted when the counselor motioned my way, and my student greeted me with a big hug. Those first few months we did little more together than read and play games, but it was clear when the end of the school year came that she valued our young relationship. She wept when we talked about our last meeting before school got out for the summer, fretting that we would never see each other again. It was a conversation that would repeat itself for the next three years.
I am so thankful for the gifts that mentoring has given me – perspectives on being a single parent, a minority, dyslexic; experiences with the amazing teachers and staff within the Sioux Falls School District, a chance to redeem some of the mistakes I made in my own youth, preparation for raising a teenage daughter of my own, friendship, and so much more. Nowadays, it’s easy to see how much an hour a week adds up and starts to shape a lifetime!
Mentoring has helped me to see how important relationships are and what it means to truly care for others by serving, listening and following through on commitments. I am more aware of how to treat my own family and not to stress over the little things that in the end are not as bad as they first looked.
I believe that mentoring adds hope to a child’s school year. The eyes of the mentees light up with joy and enthusiasm. They look forward to telling their stories and having 100% of the mentors attention focused on them. I feel that the mentees are able to continue on with the school day with their heads held high and excited for the next week when their mentors will return. The mentors get just as much if not more back from time with their mentees.
I have to admit that it took many years of being encouraged to become a Mentor before I finally agreed to complete the application. Now I ask myself, why I waited so long! I’ve now been mentoring for the past three years. Just as I was, she was also unsure of how this program was going to work out for her. Initially she’d want to go outside, go to the gym and even asked if her friends could join in. Over a short period of time, these requests stopped as she understood that this was a special time for just the two of us. We play a ton of games, have completed many craft projects and have talked away many lunch periods.
There is no better feeling than to hear the words ‘Today I knew was going to be a great day, because I knew you were coming!’. It made me so proud when after introducing me to her class, that she informed everyone that she was going to be mentor and teach Junior Achievement when she grows up. I knew at that point, that I had made a difference. It absolutely warms my heart to be a part of her life and hopefully, made a difference. Teaching her whatever knowledge and insight I’ve managed to pick up along the way, being able to watch her grow and mature has given me a greater sense of pride than anything I’ve ever done for myself.
Thank you PREMIER Bankcard for giving me this opportunity to participate in this great program and to the folks who badgered me for so many years!