BEST Kids, Inc. Mentor Q&A

GretcheN RYDIN

What motivated you to join BEST Kids?
I want to foster children one day, so I thought this would help me prepare for that and to better understand this population. I realized a while ago that one of my strengths is in developing one-on-one relationships, and considering the foster care component, this seemed like a good fit. Plus, BEST Kids is the only program like it in this area. 

How long have you been a mentor?
My mentee and I just celebrated our 3-year anniversary in October 2014, but I started the process in July 2011. He was 10 years old, and now he is 13. 

What's your most memorable experience with your mentee?
There are a lot to chose from! We've done a lot of firsts together - attending professional soccer game, college basketball game, a Redskins game, lots of sporting events, as that is one of his biggest interests. I took him sledding last year - his first time ever - and it was exciting to watch him learn how to do it and master the sled. After the first few times down the awesome sledding hill at Takoma Park Middle School, he wanted to quit, as he kept falling off his sled, but then we switched sleds and I encouraged him to try one more time and he nailed  it. I even caught a giggle, which was music to my ears coming from this "too cool" pre-teen. 

What's been the greatest challenge you've faced?
Right now, the greatest challenge is him getting older and trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in at school. I'm reading a few books about this right not, especially dealing with teenagers and peer pressure, so I can better understand how to coach him through this tumultuous time in his life. The gender barrier between us is also an increasing challenge, especially now that he is entering these teenage years. We do some activities sometimes with my guy friends, and he is always quick to bond with them. I want him to have more positive male role models in his life. 

About the Author: Marcella McCarthy is a freelance health writer with The Miami Herald. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Marcella holds dual Brazilian/American citizenship, and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. She lives in the Washington, DC area.