Growing up in a country town you tend to conform and accept that is the only kind of living. Luckily for me I had a wonderful great aunt and uncle, who doubled as grandparents, and exposed me to sites I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. They showed me what a marriage is, how you should live your life and showered me with love. Spring break of my junior year of college my great aunt passed away; I hadn’t seen her in over 6 months. I grew angry that life got in the way with seeing my aunt. Fall of my senior year of college I decided to redirect my negative energy and convert it to positive energy through SMYL.
What is SMYL?
SMYL stands for Seneca Mentoring Youth Links. This program, similar to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, recruits adults 18 and up to take on youth within the community. This program is unique because it allows people under 21 to mentor, unlike the national programs, and it is local to Tiffin, Oh.
I thought this was a great opportunity! I could pass on all the life lessons my great aunt left me. I could serve in both her memory and for the better of the child. Going in, I figured I would impact the child but my first impression was wrong. The child has impacted me.
The matching process was smooth and thoughtful. You and the child are interviewed, separately, and from there the case managers review the answers and guide you into a successful match.
I knew, from the moment we met, my mentee and I would get along exceptionally well. We not only shared passion in the arts but grew up in similar situations. I couldn’t wait to share all my wisdom and advice with this 10 year old.
What I learned
I may drive all the way from Toledo to make memories with my mentee but I’m the one learning. My mentee has taught me more about the joys in life and the values I hold true to my heart. Being a child she sees the world for its wonder and beauty instead of the cynical chaos I’ve learned. She gets such joy seeing others succeed that I too have deepen my fulfillment from helping others in their success. Above all she reminded me how important it is to cherish your loved ones because today may be their last.
I am so thankful for the amazing person SMYL placed in my life. My great aunt my be in heaven but I always feel the joy I had with her through my mentee. I highly encourage everyone to get involved with their community’s youth; you will be surprised by how they impact you.
To find out more about SMYL and how to get involved Click Here. This is #hayliestory ; what is yours?