John, Lisa & Jim
When 12-year-old John was asked to describe his mentoring friendship with Senior Friends Jim and Lisa, he replied, “It’s cool.” “I would give it two thumbs up,” he added.
Since being matched in April of 2005, John and his Senior Friends have gone on walks, shared meals, visited museums, performed community service, and played games like Scrabble. John, who lives with his mom and two brothers, considers himself fortunate to have been matched with Lisa and Jim, a married couple, because he gets the special opportunity to have both a male and female mentor in his life.
Among John’s favorite activities are sports. Lisa and Jim took him to see local teams including his first San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s games. “I had never watched a game in person before I met Jim and Lisa,” he said.
John says his Senior Friends have also encouraged him to do his best in school. “They help me read,” John explained. Lisa and Jim have practiced reading with John, as well as helped him with homework and school projects occasionally.
John adds, “I probably would have never done my mission project if not for Lisa and Jim.” John described the massive fourth grade project as overwhelming, and he was able to call up his Senior Friends and ask for their help. John smiled as he recalled that even though they helped him complete the project, he still had to do most of the work. “There was paint and cardboard. We even had a graveyard,” John proudly described.
At their One-Year Friendship Anniversary meeting John said his life was “happy, happy, happy” since being matched with Lisa and Jim. He added, “I hope this goes on and on.”
From Lisa & Jim:
It sounded like such a commitment – three whole hours for a full year. What if we get busy? Is this going to be fun or an obligation? What difference can you make in someone’s life in just three hours out of 168?
Boy, were we surprised when we met John and realized how much fun we could have together. We started reading the newspaper with fresh eyes. We looked at things we normally would have passed over and commented to each other, “John would enjoy that – let’s go next weekend.” We hiked and biked, attended the circus and movies, read books, explored the Exploratorium and Tech Museum, and of course, went to see our local teams – the Giants, A’s, Raiders, 49ers, Warriors, and SaberCats. When we got tired of watching other people play sports, we participated in a Friends for Youth group activity where we played Fantasy Baseball and actually played on the field with Vida Blue and Rich Murray. We enjoyed the Friends for Youth ice-skating party so much that we celebrated John’s 11th birthday at the skating rink with his brothers.
We had the opportunity to be there for many firsts, such as John’s first professional baseball and football games and his first plane ride at Hiller Aviation Museum. Within one year, we not only got to know John for the wonderful person he is, but we got to know his family and his school. Though the activities we did may have been more exciting, it was school projects like building a mission and writing a book report that helped us see what a creative and intelligent person John is and give us faith in knowing he is going to achieve his goals in life. It is debatable whether John got more out of the friendship or we did, but one thing is clear, we are going to know John for a long time and be there to cheer him on as he graduates from school and achieves his goals. Even though we no longer see each other every single week, we know we are there for each other and John holds a very special place in our lives.