Meet Alexa and Arturo. Alexa is the Public Policy Coordinator at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Arturo is a first grader at Burton Elementary.
When he grows up, Arturo wants to be a police officer [because he likes to run and knows how to sneak]. He’s a quiet and cheerful kid that loves to tell pretend stories and read books, like Pete the Cat. “I wanted a mentor. It would be funner, instead of being on my phone at home,” says Arturo.
Alexa joined Affinity last fall after hearing about it through her work with the Education Workforce Development Committee. “I’ve never done a formal mentoring program like Affinity. It’s been a really good experience.”
Once a week Alexa takes a break from her work at the Chamber to hang out with Arturo. “It’s one of my favorite parts of the week. It’s nice to be in the schools on a weekly basis and also hang out with my first grade friend,” smiles Alexa.
“The staff does an excellent job at matching. We’ve laughed from the get-go and we have a lot in common. We are both more quiet, like to read, and like to play games,” explains Alexa. Smiling, Arturo nods and agrees that they are a good match because they both like to “read books and do crafts.”
Arturo is a very shy and quiet kid, during their sessions Alexa is helping him become more confident and comfortable around adults that he’s not used to. Although, he didn’t say a lot during the interview he made good eye contact and smiled a lot [a big improvement since the beginning of the year!] It was easy to see how comfortable Arturo was with Alexa as he looked to her for answers and she would help him and encourage him.
Together they recently attended Affinity’s Family Game Night at Burton where they played Guess Who and ping-pong. Arturo’s mom really appreciates the support Alexa provides and has been so happy about the changes she’s seen in Arturo. As a token of her appreciation she gave Alexa a pair of earrings [which she was wearing during the interview].
Alexa’s favorite memory so far? “Getting him from class. I usually get a really big smile from his face and all the kids say, ‘Arturo your mentor is here!’”
As far as making the weekly time commitment, Alexa says “I worked it out with my schedule, Fridays are good. Other days I’m in Lansing. My bosses understand there’s value in what I’m doing. It made sense for me. They are very understanding.” She loves it so much that she already recruited one of her co-workers to mentor and is working on more.
What does Arturo tell his friends? “Get a mentor.”