By Pastor Greg Bouvier
Can you imagine having no one in your life who consistently wished for you the best without the burden of expectations? For many young people these days, having a mentor is an amazing gift because they have no other source of unconditional positive regard. January is National Mentoring Month and the story of Janece Nelson and her mentee, “Jill” (not her real name) is a story of just such inspiration.
Janece began mentoring Jill seven years ago, when she was just a fifth-grader. Jill was a good student, but never applied herself in school. With a home life that did not support her, Jill was regularly absent. Truancy became such a problem that Jill was taken from the home at different times over the years. Janece kept at it and continued to visit Jill, listening, learning and giving Jill one person who had placed no expectations on her acceptance. This made Janece different than Jill’s parents, guardians and teachers.
At one point Jill travelled out of state to visit family. She chose not to return to school. Janece continued to call the school to no avail. No one in the school system knew where Jill had gone. Janece finally contacted the TeamMates of Lincoln Chapter office. They offered to assign Janece a different mentee and Janece replied, “If anyone needs me, she does.” The Chapter office went above and beyond and was able to locate Jill at Boys Town. With the help of TeamMates, Janece resumed their mentoring relationship. When reunited, both Jill and Janece shared tears, thankful to be together again.
Jill nominated Janece for a “Hall of Fame” Award, which Janece won. Jill was quoted as saying that Janece “gave me a reason to go to school.” Over the course of their time at Boys Town, Janece asked if she might also informally mentor another young woman, “April” (not her real name) who has no other impartial adult in her life who shows interest in her. This spring both Jill and April will graduate from Boys Town. Jill has maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Janece was spotted at Sheridan in December with Jill, April and representatives from Boys Town. Janece invited them to Sheridan’s Cantata. A God-sighting, indeed.
January is National Mentoring Month, if you would like to become one of the 43 members of Sheridan’s community who are currently TeamMates mentors, please contact Pastor Greg Bouvier or talk to Janece, for she has a wonderful story to tell!