mentoringurban youth developmentvolunteer

Mentoring in first person: Steve and Travis’ story

In 2010, Steve Eisentrager (the CEO of Ohio Valley Surgical Hospital, an active member of Lake Avenue Christian Church, and one of the most humble guys we know) approached SCYM about getting involved with kids and families somehow. Because of Steve’s crazy schedule as a hospital CEO, however, he couldn’t commit to a program time every week. So we posed the idea of becoming a one-on-one mentor, a more flexible opportunity that allowed Steve to get to know one student and his family.

Steve and Travis going on an adventure, with "game faces"
Steve and Travis going on an adventure, with intentionally awkward “game faces.”

In January of 2011, Steve was matched with Travis, then a 5th grader at Perrin Woods Elementary. Five years later, Steve and Travis (now a sophomore at Springfield High) still meet regularly. We asked Steve a few questions about his mentoring experience:

Q: What have you enjoyed about being a mentor?

Steve: Being able to live life with a mentee and hang out as a friend who really wants to know all about them. Listening to stories, interests, goofiness; working through struggles like school work; talking about relationships with teachers and friends; getting to know and be a part of their family; cheering at sports events, etc. Life can be very hard for kids, and they often really need a friend that sticks with them and gives little nudges and challenges to someday become a real man or woman for God…and not just follow the path everyone else takes.

Q: What’s one challenge about being a mentor?

Steve: It’s a challenge to balance being there as a friend or person just to have fun with, versus challenging your mentee like a parent might when you see things they could work on. The first seems more important than the second, at least as a prerequisite, but both are a part of mentoring if the student knows they are understood.

Q: What’s something you appreciate about your mentee?

Steve: Travis is very good at carrying on a healthy two-way conversation about life, even with adults. He’s pretty open to talking about things I ask him about. That’s not a skill I had at his age, and I believe a very important life skill for building lasting relationships with other people of the same age or older.

Q: What advice would you give someone thinking about being a mentor?

Steve: Make it fun for you and the mentee, and don’t feel like you have to “perform” or that you don’t have what it takes to make a difference. Just embrace jumping in to listen, laugh, and take an interest in them personally. Being honest with them is OK. The rest comes naturally. Soon they will just feel like family, but you do drop them back off at their house :-).

We thank God for Steve, Travis, and their families! If you’re like Steve and think mentoring might be for you, click here to find out more. We’d love to help you invest in a Springfield kid’s life!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *