Robbi & Jackie
I was matched with my Sr. Friend when I was 13. I wasn’t sure what a mentor would do for me, but I went along with it. In our first year Robbi and I built our friendship by having fun together. We took trips to a lighthouse, the zoo, and Muir Woods, went to summer festivals, watched movies, and went to see The Nutcracker. When I got into high school, I was having a hard time and I considered dropping out. But Robbi helped me through the tough spots and my senior year I was the class Vice President. I graduated from M-A in 2001. Now I’m 26 and in the “working world”. I see kids at the school where I work and in my neighborhood who could benefit from the attention of a Senior Friend. Having someone to talk to and someone who believed in me helped me believe in myself.
I owe it all to Ann and Linda. I was looking for opportunities to connect with young people when I saw an article in the San Jose Mercury News about Linda, once a Jr. Friend, who was getting married and had reunited with her Sr. Friend with whom she had lost contact years earlier. I was touched by Ann and Linda’s story and fascinated by the organization that matched them. There began my investigation into Friends for Youth.
Several months and numerous interviews later, I was matched with Jackie Garcia, a bright, fun-loving 13-year-old. We first met at a group activity – ice skating – and we had comparable skating talent. It sealed the friendship for me!
Within months, I was introducing Jackie as my mentor. Even today (13 years later) I contend that I have learned more from Jackie than she has learned from me. I cherish the experience of driving Jackie to school each day, of partnering with her teachers to help Jackie achieve her academic goals, and seeing her walk across the stage to receive her diploma. I love that the mention of skiing or ceiling insulation or the bumble bee costume can send us into fits of laughter. Jackie and I have gone to the San Francisco Ballet, to plays and musicals, to STOMP and Marcel Marceau. We’ve pulled up non-native plants in a State park; shoveled dirt for Habitat for Humanity; spent the night in a lighthouse. Together we learned self defense and gathered geometric shapes at the produce market. Jackie spent a day at my workplace; I spent a day at hers.
As a Senior Friend, I’ve experienced joy, sadness, amazement, frustration, happiness, pride, fear, and wonder. But most of all, I feel gratitude. I am grateful to Jackie for being an extraordinary mentor, to her parents for trusting me and to Friends for Youth for making a life-changing experience possible.