What I learned as a mentor #5 - Lucas, Brenda

My wife was a mentor in Kids Hope but I stayed far away from that idea. I had no clue how to interact with kids and the idea of working with a child one on one scared me. I was a film editor and I preferred to hide in a small dark office all day.

My wife went through some challenging sessions at first and I had an "I told you so" look on my face as she came home each week. But over time she bonded with her child and she often came home beaming about how they connected over something that day. By the end of the year I couldn't believe the progress her child had made.


I couldn't sit on the sideline anymore so I signed up to be a mentor too. However, I begged Sarah, the Kids Hope director, to "give me an easy child, please!" The child I was matched up with challenged me, but he could melt my heart with his smile. After every session I ran over to the director and said, "Help! He is doing this and that. What do I do?" And she would calm me down and give me advice that left me feeling empowered. 

A few years have gone by and my life looks dramatically different. I'm now a stay-at-home dad, and I work part-time as a Floortime Specialist for children with autism! So much for my plea to "work with an easy child." It took a few years, but I don't wish that anymore. I've learned one of the greatest gifts in life is to be known just as we are and to know others just as they are. And that is what I experienced in Kids Hope as a mentor. I will always be grateful for the way Kids Hope has impacted my life. -Lucas

I served in Kids Hope as my schedule allowed for around three years. When I first met my student he was a Kindergartner and very rambunctious. We spent our time jumping from one activity to the next and he was always very frank and open about how he was feeling and what he wanted to do (which usually didn't include sitting in a classroom!)

During the next years he was placed in a class for his emotional needs and I saw his maturity and the structure of the class make small, yet impactful changes to his behavior. I know that he and I were placed together for a reason, my patience and understanding of his needs (as I was studying Psychology) and his never-ending yet endearing bounty of energy made for a good match.

I have since starting working in LAUSD for an undeserved population of students in the Foster Youth program. My time with Kids Hope not only prepared me for my current job but makes me immensely grateful for the work current mentors do; as someone now on the inside who is familiar with the needs and lack of adult guidance and mentorship of so many students, I know now more than ever how thankful I am for this program. I wish every school in LAUSD could use mentors and from the bottom of my heart... THANK YOU to everyone who serves. What may feel mundane or uneventful at times, truly does make a difference in students (even if they may not say)! Keep showing up, because you may never know just how needed you truly are! -Brenda