Mentoring makes a difference

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 10, 2011

Editorís note: These are remarks that David Roof, a member of St. Johnís Lutheran Church, recently shared with the congregation.
Pastor Rhodes asked me to share with you a faith/life moment, actually a faith/life year, with you this morning.
It all started last year about this time when the request for volunteers to mentor at Knox Middle School went out here at St. Johnís. I had some extra time on my hands, so I thought I might give it a try. I have to admit I wasnít sure this was for me. After all, I donít know how to do ěnewî math. I donít have an MP3 player (whatever that is). I donít have an iPod or an iPad, and believe it or not, my phone is still dumb. After several hours training by Bob Foreman and his associates, I became a Communities in Schools volunteer.
I remember the first day I met with Jeff (not his real name, of course). Bob had asked me to spend one hour a week in the small woodworking shop they have at Knox. I met Jeff, and we began to talk about projects he might enjoy. At first, it was hard for Jeff to talk about things ó after all, life had not been easy for this seventh grader. Many times his parents had little time for him, since they sometimes worked three jobs just to make ends meet.
As we talked more, Jeff decided to build a table for his mom for Christmas. He had no money but needed a gift. We found a plan and began to talk about the project. Suddenly it became very important to be able to read accurately and now 2 7/8 inches was more than answer (D) on a standardized test. We worked a number of weeks on that project and got it done right before Christmas break. It turned out beautifully, and Jeff got a lot of praise from his fellow classmates and teachers. He was learning that he could be important for who he was, rather than how well he could fight.
The winter and spring brought on several other projects. As Jeff became more confident and felt Godís love surround him, he discovered more things about himself:
1. It can be fun and rewarding to come to school.
2. Many times patience can led to beautiful outcomes.
3. Itís OK to make mistakes as long as youíve done your best.
4. Many others.
Perhaps his feelings can best be summed up with how he described one of his last projects. He was going to make a model of Knox as a legacy for incoming students to let them know how good the school is. We never got the project finished because of its difficulty, but that was OK.
In summary, let me say at first I wasnít sure if I could be a mentor. With Godís help, I now ask myself how can I NOT be a mentor at Knox?
For more information about mentoring, contact Communities in Schools at 704-797-0210.