Mentor Story: Cait + Merlyn
September 2022 | By Rachel Humphreys
Cait was looking for an opportunity to give back. She yearned for an opportunity to make her life more well rounded; to find a volunteer opportunity that fed her soul. She stumbled upon Affinity Mentoring in the tail end of 2019. Then the pandemic happened and starting something new was set aside, for the time being at least…
As the fog began to clear a bit in 2021 she reached back out to Affinity Mentoring.
“I was so nervous the first time I met my match,” recalls Cait. She remembers thinking, “I don’t have a ton of experience with kids!” Cait hadn’t done anything like mentoring before.
“I was so worried about being matched and not being able to click with my student, but Rocio does a really great job of pairing mentors with their mentees,” she says. “After our interview, Rocio knew exactly the kind of student I would pair well with. She read me like a book. She paired me with a high energy, creative girl and the match was perfect!”
Cait was matched with Merlyn, a spunky, chatty, and excitable 8 year old. “We’re both the middle of 5 children. During our mentoring time we talk a lot, read, make crafts, and play. Family is very important to her and she has a good support system. She enjoys lots of quality time with her mom.”
Her goal is to make space for Merlyn to express her authentic self without fear of being teased or mocked. Cait explains that mentoring can be a healing experience. She recalls being nicknamed “loud girl” in school. “I was hyper, loud, and weird. I want Merlyn to be able to have a safe space to be her authentic self.”
Learning about another culture has also been an added benefit. “It’s very eye opening, she’s learning two languages. Activities like reading together go a little differently than when I used to read with the boys I nannied in Ada.”
Whether it’s about her latest craft at her art table at home or stories of her ‘millions’ of cousins, Cait has found the key to mentoring – being present and listening.
“Mentoring is such a rewarding experience for both mentor and mentee. You can do so much good in such little time. I don’t think people realize how low of a time commitment mentoring can be and how easy it is to fit into your schedule. I hope more people look into mentoring,” she explains.
Although the mentoring commitment of one year has been completed, Cait will be returning this Fall to mentor Merlyn again. “I want it to be a long-time match. I want to be there, cheering, as Merlyn graduates high school.”
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