Many years ago Robert Hall promised himself that one day, when he had time, he would give back. He was a busy dairy farmer and father at the time, but he never forgot his promise. So these days, as a semi-retired city dweller in an empty nest, Robert volunteers as a mentor for 13-year-old James*.
James lives with his mother and has no contact with his father. He also experiences ADHD so has energy to burn. When Sarah Taylor, Family Works volunteer co-ordinator, compared the profiles of Robert and James, she quickly saw an ideal match. Now the pair regularly embarks on the active outdoor adventures Robert loves—tramping, camping, and kayaking—and James spends time with an outstanding male role model.
“We started off with shorter activities,” said Robert. “Like mini golf and throwing a Frisbee around. Then once the trust was there we went on longer stints.”
Robert hopes the experiences James shares with him will be “imprinted on his brain” and that he’ll become “a useful member of society, not a drain”—perhaps like Robert’s first mentee, who finished five years of high school and plans to become a chef. “That feels really good,” said Robert.
Robert isn’t the only Family Works mentor over 60 years old—some are over 70, and Sarah is delighted. “Our mature mentors bring special qualities to their role,” she says. “Like experience, wisdom, and the understanding that it’s important to stop and smell the roses. Often, having raised families of their own, they know how to meet the needs of young people.”
Sarah adds, “Robert takes his mentees away on incredible outdoor adventures, which is wonderful but not for everyone. Most mentors just spend a couple of hours per week with their young people walking or bike riding, baking, or simply visiting the library. The positive impact of these experiences is equally significant.”
Robert has positively influenced four young lives (so far). If you would also like to “give back” through mentoring, please call Sarah on 027 531 8048. Or visit www.familyworksuppersouth.org.nz.