Jim – a new Peer Project mentor with only five months of mentoring under his belt – describes signing up to be a mentor as the “best decision I’ve ever made.”
Going in he didn’t know what to expect. The first meeting was tough and there have been ups and downs, but the training and background information from the Peer Project helped. And it turned out his mentee was right in his own neighbourhood.
“That kind of hit home, there is a kid in need and he literally lives right down the street from me,” said Jim. “He was just amazing – as soon as we started talking, we instantly hit it off.”
Playing video games, paintball, and going to the museum or low-cost Peer Project sponsored events, Jim says he’s enjoyed doing things that he otherwise would never be doing.
Hronis admits that at first it was all about fun, but with support from the Peer Project staff, he started to make an effort to bring up bigger issues like homework and school. “Having fun is great, especially for building that relationship, but you can’t forget about…homework and doing your chores,” said Jim.
Thinking About His Own Mentors
Growing up, Jim didn’t have a lot of opportunities, even the ones his mentee has. “Paintball are you kidding me? My family was like, here’s a soccer ball go play outside,” Jim said.
Not having much, he did have some strong family members making sure he stayed in line, but he admits he was by no means a “squeaky clean guy.” With that in mind, he says he uses his past experiences to help his mentee keep on the right path.
“Nowadays, with technology, everything happens so quickly. Back then you might have done something silly and no one would know about it because it was all rumour. Now there’s a Twitter page, a Facebook thing, there’s a picture and a video,” said Jim. “It’s a scary time.”
Learning From Each Other
Joining the Peer project pushed Jim to do something different. Unexpectedly, Hronis says the learning has not been a one-way street; “we have both learned from each other.”
“One of the Peer Project ‘Do You Think You Are Tough?’ ads really resonated with me. Because a lot of people think they are tough and do all these great things, but they forget how important it is to give back,” Jim said.
Part of the Family
Jim says the greatest benefit of becoming a mentor has been making a new friend.
“He is a really good kid and I always look forward to seeing him,” said Jim.
Jim recently got engaged and told his mentee “No matter what happens, you are part of the family. And I hope you feel the same way because no matter what changes or what happens, you are stuck with me – I am not going anywhere and neither are you.”