There seems to be two periods in my life: the one before I met Adia and the one after.
For almost two years while living on Orcas I have been an unofficial mentor to Adia Dolan, a vibrant, talented and now 16-year-old overall superstar, whether it comes to soccer or theater or enjoying life in general.
When people asked me how I came into Adia’s life, I say, “I didn’t have a choice – she chose me.”
After meeting on the set of the musical “Oliver” at Orcas Center in 2013, it was clear that Adia and I would have a beautiful friendship.
I’m not the only person who has been lucky enough to be chosen. She has a host of people guiding her from her father to many friends and islanders who have known her since she was a little girl. After her mother died five years ago, figures like her official mentor, Suzanne Olson, became even more critical to Adia’s life.
As her mentor, or as she calls me her “sister figure,” I have learned some hard lessons such as how to set boundaries and how to make time for calamities that one cannot predict – like the terrifying moment when Adia showed up at my office after being bumped by a car. She came away with only a few scratches, but it was a reminder of how unsafe the world can be.
This week, we are running a story about the power of being a mentor, not only for the two people who form a long-lasting bond, but for the overall health of a community.
The fact that we live in a place where people are willing to invest in the lives others, especially younger others, means we are willing invest in ourselves and grow as people.
I have learned so much from Adia and it has made me want to be a better person, to be the kind of person that she respects and can come to for advice.
Despite all the growing pains we have experienced together, most of the time Adia and I just have fun. Whether I’m watching her fierceness on the soccer field, having a quick chat when she comes by the office or taking a hike and listening as she breaks into song, it’s always an adventure.
One way to get involved in your own adventure is to be a part of the mentor program here on San Juan Island.
To sign up for the program as a mentor or those interested in signing their children up for the program, contact program coordinator Barbara Ellis at 360-370-7665 or Jennifer Armstrong, director of San Juan Family Resource Center, at 360-378-5246.