You Never Know

Cynthia and I have been mentoring kids with Neighbor 2 Neighbor for almost 2 years now. It is an incredible organization. They work with kids who are at least 1 grade level behind, most of which are 2 or 3 behind, and they have a 100% success rate with kids who stick with the program of getting them back up to or above grade level.

But it’s really more than just the mentoring they facilitate. They truly are building a community of hope, justice and compassion. There are very few chances where you get to see your efforts change a life right in front of your eyes, but at N2N that happens each and every night as mentors love on their kids and help them with their reading or writing.

I’ve been mentoring the same kid, Andrew, since we started helping out at N2N. I’ve got to be honest, when I first started I was nervous. You see, I’m not the sharpest bowling ball in the drawer and having to teach a kid things he’s going to be tested on scared me. I was worried that I would not know the material and just mess Andrew’s schooling up entirely.

It went better than I could have imagined. N2N makes it so easy to be a mentor as far as the curriculum goes and beyond that Andrew and I just clicked. All the way down to having the same first name (what the A in A.J. stands for, by the way) and having the same favorite color (red).

I loved this kid. Over time his shyness went away, his confidence grew, we read over 60 books together and had a bunch of fun at movie nights, the state fair and schooling him in basketball (ok, honestly, I only won because I’m taller than him).

I looked forward to every Wednesday night getting to hang out with Andrew.

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to head to N2N for our first night of mentoring since Christmas break I got a call to say that Andrew’s family moved unexpectedly  and he would no longer be in the N2N program.

I was crushed.

Didn’t even get to say “goodbye.”

All I could think of was, “Man…wish I had one more chance to hang out.” You usually read posts like this after someone passes away. Gratefully, that’s not the case here and there’s still a chance I may see him again sometime in the future, but the weekly opportunity I’ve had with him is gone for now.

You never know. You never know when someone you care about, someone you spend time with, someone whose life you have a chance to impact is gone.

So, what’s the point? Seize every moment with people you care about. If you ever hope to change someone’s life, to tell them something, to make an impact…don’t wait. Do it now. Call them, hang out, grab coffee, whatever it is don’t wait.

While I am disappointed that I won’t be able to impact Andrew’s life for as long as I had hoped, I do trust that the time I did spend with him will have an impact on his life now and in the future.

I’m also excited about the opportunity to impact another kids life. There’s nothing like building the relationship Andrew and I built and starting over with another kid can be daunting, but to have another chance to be a positive influence in another kids life and help change their life for the better is an opportunity I won’t pass up.

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  1. Great post. I have experienced this with kids, too. It is hard, it never gets easier. You made a big difference in his life, just by being consistent. Now on to the next kid who will teach you something else. Isn’t it amazing how we learn as much from them as they learn from us. Thanks for mentoring kids AJ (and Cynthia too).

  1. January 16th, 2013

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