A mentoring story
One of our newest mentors Gary looked at his watch and notified his teammate that he was leaving. He left his workplace about fifteen minutes early to ensure that he had plenty of time to pick up his child’s request of, “a Little Caesars Pizza and an Orange Crush”. Waiting patiently in the hallway, Gary held their pizza and Orange Crush as the delightful smells caught the attention of every child passing by.
You can hear the kids asking one another, “Who is that for?” When the child left the lunch line to meet with Gary the jaws of the other students visibly dropped as they asked. “Why does he get pizza?!”
Immediately after Gary met with his child he asked me in the parking lot, “I am truly enjoying this but I wonder if I am really making a difference. Can I really help change the life of a child just by eating lunch with him once a week?” But little did he realize that the change had already begun.
For when I entered back in the school to speak with the student a commotion had begun. The commotion centered on a large 20oz Orange Crush that towered over the other children’s half pint of lukewarm milk. The children around him protested, “That’s not fair! How did you get that Orange Crush? How come you get to eat pizza every week? Who is that guy who eats with you? Does he come all the time? Can I eat with you? Will he bring us an Orange Crush too?”
The child silently listened while carefully caressing the bottle several time. He slowly unscrewed the top to tip back the orange fizzy that had the admiration of all the other students. After he had wiped the excess soda off with his forearm he answered with a smile, “My mentor brought it for me. No, we don’t eat pizza every week. Last week he brought me a cheeseburger, fries and sprite from McDonald’s. And next week he is bringing me some tacos from Taco Bell with a coke.”
His smile only broadened when the children opposed to this obvious unfairness. When they left the lunchroom the teacher came up to me and stated, “He never throws that bottle away. He carries it all the way to the classroom. He does that every week because he wants to make sure every student sees it.”
And if we were able to peer into that child’s room I wouldn’t be surprised if that Orange Crush bottle wasn’t proudly displayed on his shelf among his other prized possessions. While it is just an empty bottle that you and I would toss in the next garbage with indifference, that empty 20oz Orange Crush bottle contains a memory for him of a time that he was special and sought out by someone. While he may have wondered for years, “Am I special and valuable?” that Orange Crush would remind him that he was!