Dana Stan is a skateboarder and a mentor. But before she got involved with Hull’s Mentors Matter program, she was neither.
While these dual passions seem somewhat unrelated, the common factor is Abby, the young woman that Stan was connected to when she decided to volunteer. She wanted to offer a young person the kind of support she didn’t have while growing up. “I try to be the person I wish I had to look up to as a teenager. There weren’t a lot of role models for me,” says Stan. “It’s been such an interesting experience. You forget what it’s like to be a teenager — what they struggle with.”
While Stan focusses on how she can be a support for Abby, she says she also benefits in many ways from her involvement as a mentor.
“It’s nice to do something for other people. It feels good. Part of her (Abby’s) thing in looking for a mentor through Hull was to help her get out of the house and try new things. It’s done the same for me,” she says. “We have a really good relationship and are on the same page about trying new things and activities together.”
So much so that when Abby took her skateboarding for the first time last summer, Stan was hooked. “She loves to research, so she watched videos on technique so she could show me what to do. I ended up loving it and bought my own skateboard.”
Healthy relationships build healthy kids. Unfortunately, those relationships aren’t always within a child’s natural supports; but Hull is making sure they still benefit from relational support by connecting kids and youth to adults that can be positive role models for them. Sometimes mentors are the only unpaid support in these kids’ lives.
Over the past year, COVID-19 has led Hull to adapt the program to public health restrictions and encourage mentors to adapt their own approaches to these relationships, under the oversight of Hull staff. Creativity and persistence by all have allowed those relationships to continue.
Marilyn Boston, Program Coordinator for Hull’s Mentors Matter program, explains: “We do this because many kids don’t have a strong web of support in their life. When their worlds are closing in on them, we need to be there for them. With COVID, we knew we had to do our very best to keep things going for these kids through a time of even more isolation and uncertainty. We put plans in place to keep these relationships going as best we could with the restrictions in place. We never once considered disconnecting these kids from the people willing to engage with them and be in their lives.”
Stan is willing to be in Abby’s life long-term, even after the official mentor/mentee relationship through our program comes to an end.
“I can see us being in each other’s lives forever,” she says. “I never had a little sister and think of her that way. As long as she wants to continue, I will be here for her.”
For her first volunteering experience, this has been a positive one by all accounts, and Stan credits Hull for that, as well as the mentee she was paired with. “I think Hull is great. They’ve been super supportive. They have guidelines but are also flexible and understanding. I was so nervous to volunteer and was worried about screwing up. They’ve been very understanding and supportive and I can reach out whenever I need. This is a very human organization.”
Caring and supportive relationships are essential for humans to grow and develop. Incredibly selfless and giving people like Dana Stan give us all hope for the future and for these kids.
Think about a person that made you feel valued and supported, that helped with your self-confidence and growth and saw potential in you. Can you find time to be that person for a youth that needs support?
You don’t need to learn to skateboard if that’s not your thing. And you don’t need to “fix” anyone. You just need to meet these kids where they are at, so to speak. It’s the positive and supportive relationship they need most, and the opportunity to be with healthy adults who are present and attuned to them.
From a clinical perspective, mentoring with us is your chance to help support healthy brain development and resiliency in kids that just need someone to invest a bit of time in them and remind them of their worth and potential.
From a human perspective, Hull’s Mentors Matter program is looking for good humans to help develop other good humans. It’s as simple as that, and an experience that just may change your life as well.
Contact Aidan Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the various mentoring opportunities at Hull.Click here to learn more