Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's are Mentors, too!

I was at our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, which shows our appreciation for those who volunteer to become mentors to youth in our community. We also showcase the businesses and people that support our organization.

My co-workers and I each got up to do a small speech and give out our awards. I found it very odd, but cool, that in my speech, I focused on my invited guests (Businesses who support us and fundraiser volunteers) as being a real part of the mentoring "Family." They may not be mentors, but they support the mentors, much like a family does with their children.

Prior to my talk, our Executive Director told a story about his own personal life. He spoke about his own mentor growing up, his father. It started out as this great story of what we would consider a normal father-son relationship. The father took such interest in his son's life and interests. He did not want to be the coach of his son's team, but he helped lead the whole organization. So by being there for his son, he was also there for everyone's children. He was a mentor to his son, a mentor to his peers, and a mentor to other children around his son. Exceptional.

The story comes to a point where the son is playing football, in a pre-season game. The father could not be there, but his son carried on because that is what he had to do. He did not get much field time as he was the back-up quarterback, but in this game, he was called in. He called a play in the huddle, executed it, and as this son passed the ball to his teammate, a touchdown was made. What an exciting time for the son. And how sad was it that the father was not there at that very moment to see it. But, the son was pumped up, and knew that the minute he got home, he would be able to relive the story to his Father.

Since this was an away game, it took some time for the son to get home. But when he did get home, very excited to tell his story, he realized from a family friend that his father had been taken to the hospital. This son got into the car and drove to the hospital, which was several towns away. When he got there, his father had already passed away. His father was only 37 year old. He never got to share the news with the man who had molded who he was, who he is, and who he would become.

The relationship to mentoring and the volunteer dinner was that we all NEED someone to share our story with, someone to tell our life story to. This son said that he had a father who cared, but also a father that listened to his life story. He said that every single mentor and mentee in the room had this same special bond.

The "Bigs" in the program and the "Littles" in the program were matched and given the opportunity to share their life stories together. And through this match of friendship, another life story is created. How wonderful is it that these two people blend into friendships and life stories.

I sat there a bit mesmerized for a moment. I think many got lost in their own lives in comparison. This son, who is now my executive director, had shared something so intimate, so personal, that I could not help but think of my own life. My sister just had a heart attack, but she was ok and at this dinner. Then I thought about his father's age and how young that was. Then I realized something.

I do not personally visit with my executive director's family. I do not even think I know all the names of his children, nor could i pick them out in a group of similar aged children, but what i do know is that this is a man who is a good father and a good mentor to his own children. He has taken the actions of his mentor and played it out again, with his own children. He may have lost his Dad that day, but what he never lost is his father's spirit. In fact, he took it one more step. He took that spirit from their story and time together, and he mentors his own children and the children of other people. He has created an agency where the focus is on children and their families. He has a story to tell, but he also shows it by actions in his work. I felt like his story was another opening to seeing what makes this man a man. I felt honored to hear this story.

I have this feeling that his Father was looking down upon this volunteer dinner with much pride. And the spirit of this father is alive and well in his son, for which I recognize and glad I was a part of that evening.

On this Father's Day Weekend, just remember that Father's are loving, caring, compassionate, and change lives. Father's are mentors, too!

1 comment:

tdoiley said...

I too was moved by Rob's speech. It was nice that he shared such an intimate story. It took a lot of courage I bet to put his emotions out there. I am proud to work under such a truly compassionate person that really understands the power of mentoring. I am honored to work along side you and have you as a personal mentor.
I need to say on thing about your final comments on your blog. I do not see my father as loving, compassionate, or caring, however he is a perfect example of negative role modeling....and yes he did change lives. You and Rob help me see that there are wonderful, loving Dads left in this world. Thanks for being such strong male mentors to so many of us and leading by example for my sons.
Happy Father's Day to my Favorite Dad I know!