Mark met his 8th grade mentee for the first time about a year and a half ago. His mentee was struggling with his parent’s ongoing divorce. He needed someone to talk to and someone to support him. The mentee emailed or called the mentor program nearly every day, asking for a mentor. Then Mark answered our call. Mark was a perfect fit. He understood this boy's struggles. They also soon discovered a shared love for soccer, animals, and laughter. They hit it off right away and quickly started spending time outside of school; going to watch soccer games at UCSB, doing homework and playing at the Boys and Girls Club, or just walking Mark’s dog around the neighborhood. Mark focused on providing his mentee with consistent emotional support and understanding while exposing him to new and character building activities to improve his confidence and self-esteem. They became fixtures at nearly every mentor program event, from Zodo’s Bowling to Career Night, and Mark even went above and beyond by coming up with suggestions for future event opportunities to enrich the program.
Not only has Mark supported his mentee and the program, he's also made time for his mentee’s younger siblings, including them whenever he could. And then when the siblings were matched up with mentors, he took time to help their new mentors as well! Mark’s consistent support for his mentee, the family, and the program, have made a huge impact on all of us, but the best result is seeing how the painfully shy boy who couldn’t make eye contact, is growing into a confident and accomplished young man. Thank you for all that you do Mark, and congratulations! You are our December mentor of the month!