Wednesday, January 27, 2010

To Beto

To Beto

Who are you?

You are the voice on my voice mail that says “what’s up?”

Who are you?

You are the courage that leaves your home each day into a world that does not welcome you

Who are you?

You are the writing on the wall that appears under a street light on an abandoned gas station

Who are you?

You are the one who reminds me to be thankful for what I have and all I have achieved

Who are you?

You are strength and courage and love… you are my bud.

Edwin Galan - Mentor

When I first met Beto, he would come into my office and just look at pictures on my wall. He wouldn’t say much, occasionally remarking on someone he recognized – “oh I know him – he’s friends with my brother” . “There go my sister – she was in your program. She says I should be in it”. I took the bait – “She did? Well, we would love to have you in our program… “

It took a minute. See, Beto doesn’t trust people that easily. But he kept coming into my office, looking at pictures, with his back to me, talking about people he knew…” he just got out of jail”… Finally he accepted my invitation, and he joined mentoring.

Edwin wasn’t Beto’s first mentor, and at first, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work. Beto hated school, and Edwin is a teacher - an unlikely match.

Beto, tortured Edwin with silence, and Edwin kept showing up. No matter what Beto threw at him, he kept showing up…

With patience and an open heart, Edwin started chipping away at the wall Beto had used to keep all of us out.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Beto about another mentor in the program who is very popular with the kids, and Beto in his booming voice told me “I wouldn’t change Galan for nothing – he is the best mentor there is”

I know sometimes our mentors don’t get to hear, or experience the difference they are making in our young people’s lives, but I do.

I remember that oversized kid, who couldn’t look at me. Whose wounds would cut so deep that he had to walk away for long periods of time, just to make sure we weren’t going to leave him first, and then come back a little softer, a little more willing to trust.

These are my heroes… The mentors who see our kids, and our kids who let us see them.

Be a mentor – change two lives.


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