Comment: Mentor no matter what

I volunteered as a mentor for the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance eight years ago.

My mentee lights up the world wherever she goes. I feel so privileged to be part of his world. I saw her almost every week since we were paired up at the end of fourth grade until the end of high school.

Right after she graduated, I asked her how she wanted to restructure our time together.

She said she still wanted to meet regularly.

I asked him what that meant.

She said, “Every week.”

My heart is overflowing.

It was not easy to stay by her side as she struggled with truly desperate poverty and neglect. It cost me many sleepless nights and pushed me to become more compassionate. But being a mentor is not about me. It’s about her. It’s about being there for her, no matter what. Listen. Care. Encouraging.

I have always been hesitant to get involved with organizations that promise to help children in need, simply because, in my view, the people running them are often unable to provide the leadership, resources and coordination needed to fulfill their missions. The volunteers are frustrated and the children are suffering.

The Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance is a notable exception. Throughout my years as a mentor, everyone was there for my mentee and me in a thousand meaningful ways that lovingly and wisely contributed to our success together. Everyone I have interacted with understands that there is no “silver bullet” that cures the ravages of poverty, neglect and drug abuse on children, that the only way to bring about a real change in a community is to invest time, compassion and perseverance in meaningful, long-term projects. term relationships.

I know that as my mentee grows into adulthood, her needs will continue to change and our times together will – and should – become less frequent. I am thrilled that I can continue to encourage her to discover and pursue the life she wants.

Will I come back to supervise another child? I’m not ready yet, but I might one day. I am grateful for the generosity and participation of our community, so the Mentoring Alliance will be there when I am. Sonoma needs it.

To learn more about mentoring, visit or call 707-938-1990.

Gail Meredith is a resident of Sonoma.

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