A mentoring story that continues to impact my life has been being a part of the story of our Iraimi.
Iraimi came to the Old Colony Y at 14 as an insecure, scared and untrusting young adult. Her family came to us from years of transiency that ended with living in an unheated apartment where Iraimi, her sisters and mother slept on a mattress on a floor. Her family was referred to us to live in our Family Life Center. The mentoring came when Iraimi fully embraced everything the YMCA had to offer. Although seeking out numerous mentors and support systems, the story that has meaning is seeing her with our Vice President, Erin. Not only did Erin take Iraimi under her wing, she has been the major support system that has been needed to navigate through employment, graduation from high school, college acceptance, graduation from Wheaton College, a Watson Fellowship where she spent a year (3 months each) in Ireland, Peru, Africa and Srilanka bringing youth development programs to YMCAs in those countries. Now ten years later, Iraimi has truly exceeded our expectations as a recipient of services, as a volunteer, as a YMCA employee, and as a person. Interestingly enough, Iraimi reports the importance of mentoring and the “little things,” that Erin and her staff did. The “unconditional support,” the asking how the day was, the trips to the gym, the phone calls before a major exam, and the sitting in the office just talking about the day – were all things Iraimi remembers as important aspects of her mentoring relationship.
Erin remembers the look in Iraimi’s eyes when she then started really believing what people had been telling her – that if she put her mind to something, she could overcome any obstacle and achieve all that she wanted to. Not only has Iraimi far exceeded our expectations and overcome many obstacles in her life, she truly wants to give back to others by mentoring younger children, as Erin and many others have done for her.
Not only is this mentoring relationship meaningful for me every time I get to see both iraimi and Erin together, it is also a meaningful example of our YMCA as an Association of wrap-a-round supports for children and families in need of support.
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