Learning to grow together

January 9, 2018

Ky and Luis have been matched since March 2014 through T.E.A.M. (Together Engaging Adolescents through Mentoring), a program of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Boston. Ky is a salesman who lives in South Boston. He chose to become a mentor because he had struggled academically and dropped out of high school, so he wanted to work with a youth struggling in a similar way to help the youth overcome challenges and understand the importance of education.

Luis is a 10-year-old boy who lives part-time with his mother and younger sister in JP and part-time with his grandmother in South Boston. He wanted a mentor to do fun things with. He often had a hard time with peers at his school and was subject to being bullied.

Although it was clear that their personalities clicked right from the start, Ky and Luis struggled with communication. Ky expected Luis to respond to his texts promptly and to follow through on every plan that they made. Luis, in typically 10-year-old fashion, often forgot his phone and wouldn’t respond to texts. Ky interpreted this as Luis not being engaged in the match relationship. Ky also felt that Luis was only interested in activities that cost a lot of money. When Ky tried to deny Luis expensive items, Luis would act rejected and ask to go home. At one point, Ky contacted TEAM with the intention of quitting the match.

With the support of staff, Ky was able to reassess his expectations. He learned to ask for support around scheduling and, with the help of Luis’ mother, he was able able to create quarterly schedules with Luis that allowed for advance plans. In addition, Ky was able to talk honestly with Luis about money and to create a budget that Luis would help decide how to spend. In this way, Luis and Ky were able to manage money together and learn important lessons about budgeting. Ky and Luis still look forward to expensive outings while balancing them appropriately with free or low-cost activities.

At the one year match meeting, Ky reflected that he knew Luis would get a lot out of this match, but what surprised him most was how much he got out of it. He has begun to question some of his own assumptions and improved his communication skills. He has learned how to ask for and accept support when needed. And, perhaps most importantly, he has truly bonded with Luis. “I see him as a true friend now”, he says. “I am able to talk to him honestly and he responds confidently.”

Luis similarly reported a lot of growth with Ky. He said that he now does “much better” in school and that others “definitely see me as more responsible”. He has learned how to trust an adult and receive support when he needed it most. He has gained a friend.

The pair are excited for another year together and plan to explore beyond the city of Boston. They will work to help Luis find a job and prepare for another year at school. They have learned to trust each other, and they also know that there are others who they can turn to for additional support. They are looking forward to continue to grow and learn together.

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