By Ashley Strutz
The month of January was National Mentoring Month and it also marked my one-year anniversary as the program coordinator for San Juan Island Mentoring. As I look back on the past year I am amazed at what an extraordinary journey this has been. In my job as the program coordinator, I have enrolled elementary and middle school students, matched mentors and mentees, recruited and trained awesome volunteers, went on a geocaching field trip, wrote a monthly newsletter, and threw two bowling and pizza parties. I work closely with the elementary and middle school counselors and have seen first hand the dedication and support they provide for the youth that they serve. I have other roles at the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center, previously known as the San Juan Island Family Resource Center, but I can easily say that the mentor program is the most fun. I love reading the activity logs that the mentors provide and being able to picture the mentors and mentees having fun doing things like: eating ice cream (a program favorite); playing board games; swimming; boating; bowling; ice skating; geocaching; hiking; bonfires and s’mores; Nerf wars; building a soapbox racer; baking; sewing; painting; reading; roller blading; biking; eating in restaurants; chatting about life; going to the animal shelter (another program favorite); beachcombing; hanging out at the library; attending high school and middle school plays; the performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Salish Sea Ballet; going to the San Juan County Fair; and the rainy day favorite – popcorn and a movie. I have been lucky to have a mentor later in life when I went back to school to pursue a college degree at the age of 38. My mentor talked me off a ledge over algebra, showed me how to think critically, and taught me how to believe in me. Nearly 10 years later when I am stressed I ask myself, “What would my mentor say?” and I hear her voice in my head say something like, “The decisions based in fear are the wrong decisions.” And I instantly feel stronger. I can only imagine if I had her as a mentor when I was 10, I might have been the first woman president. Mentors change lives for the better, but many of my mentors share that they learn as much from their mentees as their mentees learn from them. It’s a win-win. I feel lucky that I get to witness these wonderful relationships blossom and grow every day.
If you are interested in learning more about the SJI Mentoring Program, contact the Family Resource Center. Phone: 360-378-5246, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Strutz is the mentor program coordinator for the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center.