National Mentoring Month: Capes, lawn mowers and kids…
By Stephanie Korteweg
Water gun fights, hot summer days, swimming pools, imagining that you somehow, by some miraculous event, can run faster than the day before. Clenched teeth, you muster up every ounce of your energy to run with this newfound supernatural strength. You run so hard that your body feels like at any moment you could come teetering down, but in sheer delight you are convinced that the next time you can run a little faster still.
I remember as a child I wanted to be a super hero. At the ripe age of three I was convinced that I could fly. Why not? I had seen plenty of super hero with capes flying on TV. They looked just like me, sans the fact that they were another gender or at least 20 years my elder- duh, they were human, and as luck would have it so was I!
So one day in my Wonder Woman PJ’s I decided to put my flying skills to the test. I climbed up on the couch, and with a half-hearted jump I landed on the ground – unhurt and undeterred. I needed to go all out if I was going to put my super powers to the test. Hands out- just like in the movies. It needed to be done. I needed to show the world human flight was possible. So this time, I decided I needed to get on the highest point of the couch, the arm rest, and jump from there.
I didn’t need to be a wimp about it anymore, it was all or nothing, baby. I was in! I was airborne- for a millisecond. The next second, is when my face made contact with the coffee table. It was then I decided to put my flying ventures to rest, at least for a while. My mom said, “Steph, you can’t fly-even though you saw it on TV, that’s make believe. You can do other things, but flying is not something you can do.” Feeling a bit disappointed, and a little silly, I had to make an early visit to the dentist.
Fast Forward ten years and my dad had several rental properties that he would rent out to older widows. Every weekend we would load up the lawnmower and head out to these properties. I coveted the time with my dad, working together on the yard. It was hot, dusty and dirty, and I didn’t really like cutting lawns, but I do love time with my dad! Every time we would finish, my dad would MAKE us go and talk to the older ladies. We would always bring them lunch, and sit and talk to them. This was NOT my favorite part. I would ask my dad, “Why do I have to sit and talk with them? I don’t even know them. And why do we always bring them a meal?”
My dad, explained that these women don’t have any family nearby and they enjoyed talking to me. It was the least I could do – no excuses. I needed to sit with them, even if it was just enjoyable to them, because they had no one else.
Looking back on my life lived – having traveled to over 15 countries I see the same wonderment, joy and vitality in the children around the world. That thirst for what is possible. The question of what can I do? The need for guidance and safety in the boundaries, “no you can’t fly, but you can do other things.”
At the bottom of every basic human need is the need for connection. Taking time to sit and talk with someone else. Someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. Not for their good, but for yours. You see I learned something, when you take time to talk to someone, you place value on them. I am marked. I am convinced. People are worth it. Little or big, everyone needs someone.
January is National Mentoring Month. There are about 15,000 students in WISD, and most of them need a champion. Someone who will sit and talk to them. There are lots of ways to get involved. Do it! If you have 30 minutes once a week- there is a place for you!
The beneficial effects of mentoring are well documented. The mentoring organizations in Waco have gathered together because we see the need for connection, guidance, and mentoring. Want to get involved? I’d love to hear from you! Go place value on a kid! You might just even find yourself enjoying it.
Resources for learning about mentoring in Waco:
Contact info for Stephanie: [email protected]
Stephanie Korteweg is the Director of the STARS Mentoring Project at Antioch Community Church. She is happily married to Jeremy Korteweg. She graduated Baylor and taught in WISD for 12 years before becoming the Director of STARS. She and her husband love to travel and do anything outdoors. Their love for God is what compels them to serve others. She is committed to placing value on children and contributing to the betterment of the city.