Lisa & Pedro
Two years ago, Pedro was facing challenges at home, at school, and in the community. A teacher, who recognized his need for an ongoing, positive, and caring adult in his life, referred him to Friends for Youth. “I was a wannabe,” the now 13-year-old Pedro recalls, meaning he was on the fringe of gang involvement. “I think I would be in a gang if I hadn’t met Lisa.”
Lisa and Pedro became friends in October of 2006. At their first meeting they went to the park to walk Lisa’s dog Emma. Looking back, Lisa says she had no idea then what a significant part of her life Pedro would become. “I love how Pedro is just so much fun,” Lisa said. “He’s game for anything. Friends for Youth matched us so well!” Pedro says that there have been times he was feeling down, and he credits Lisa for helping him feel better. “Lisa doesn’t scream at me,” Pedro explained. “She helps me with stuff and she teaches me things.”
They met weekly during their first year – doing activities like playing soccer, gardening, watching movies, cooking together, visiting museums, and of course, walking Emma. Lisa and Pedro also attended Friends for Youth group activities like a pet care workshop and gang awareness life skill workshop, as well as volunteered their time at Friends for Youth’s annual golf tournament and auction.
Throughout their time, they have laughed and learned a lot about each other. “I’ve learned to lighten up,” Lisa said. “I’ve been introduced to new music. I’ve learned about Pedro’s culture and about his life.”
Lisa says one of their regular activities is to just drive, listen to music, and talk. Pedro said his favorite activity has been hanging out at Lisa’s house, where they typically cook a meal or watch a movie together. “I like the food she makes,” Pedro said. “It’s like good food – and it’s healthy!”
After being friends for a year, Lisa and Pedro decided to continue their Friendship. “The biggest reward is seeing him happy,” Lisa said. “It has translated into more confidence and success for Pedro.”
When asked what kind of person should be a mentor, Pedro replied, “people who like to have lots of fun and people who like to ask ‘how was your day?’”
At the One-Year Friendship Anniversary, Senior and Junior Friends are asked to reflect on their time together. Here’s what Lisa and Pedro had to say about each other:
Senior Friend Lisa
How is being a mentor different from what you expected?
I didn’t think I would have as much fun as I’ve had or enjoy his company so much. I thought it would be more work. It has not been work. It has been more like a pleasure. He makes me so happy.
– What I learned from you is silliness and strength of character.
– What I’ll never forget about you is your honesty and desire to do the right thing.
Junior Friend Pedro
How have you changed from this experience?
I don’t say bad words that much anymore. I’ve stopped hurting people. I’ve stopped beating up people.
What do you think of the Friends for Youth program? It is a very very fun program.
Would you be a mentor to a youth when you are older? Yeah! This has inspired me. Lisa inspired me.
– My friendship is good – no change that to excellent!
– She doesn’t scream at me or hit me. She helps me with stuff, and she teaches me things.
– My favorite activity was and still is walking Emma. (Lisa’s dog)
– One thing that I wish for you in the future is that you are still my friend.
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