Mentor highlight: Sarah from For Kids Only

January is National Mentoring Month, and we are highlighting a number of perspectives on mentoring, events, and ways you can get involved in the field. Today’s post, a mentor highlight, is submitted from For Kids Only Afterschool.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your mentee.
My name is Sarah Malala, and I am a 16-year-old junior at Bishop Fenwick. A little over two months ago, I joined the For Kids Only program as a PAL, or mentor for a student at the Bates School in Salem. I’ve met with my mentee, Jon-Anthony, for several weeks. Jon-Anthony is an amazing second grader who’s funny, caring, and makes the hour I spend with him each Friday well worth it. Despite our short time together, he has without a doubt earned a special place in my heart. He always knows how to put a smile on my face.

Why is mentoring important to you?
Mentoring is important to me because I feel it’s a fun, enjoyable way to give back to the community. I’ve never been an athletic person, so instead of doing sports in school, I’ve turned to more community work and clubs. Mentoring gives me the priceless feeling of doing something good, and I love it. I hope I can provide people like Jon-Anthony with guidance and friendship, and be someone who they can always rely on. It’s not just that I hope to teach him things - but I know for a fact he’s taught me many valuable lessons as well.

What advice would you give to other adults looking to become mentors?
As a teenager, I’ve told nearly all of my friends of the FKO program and encouraged them to join. My advice to others looking to become mentors is to never hesitate when it comes to volunteering. Mentoring is a valuable learning experience you can’t turn down.

Who has been a mentor in your life? What are some of the lessons they have taught you?
My mother has always served as an exceptional mentor throughout my life. She never fails to give 100% of herself to the needs of others; growing up, she volunteered nearly every day at my grade school, and continues to do so for my younger brother and sister. She’s taught me the importance of helping others and the giving of yourself.

What inspired you to become a mentor?
When Ms. Chambers, the coordinator for the For Kids Only Program, came and spoke at my school, I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do.  The more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea seemed. A program like FKO offers an enjoyable place to spend my time, seeing as nothing is more fun then spending the afternoon with Jon-Anthony.

For Kids Only Afterschool Programs strives to support the needs of children and families through academic, recreational and social opportunities that enhance school day learning and build upon individual strengths and interests necessary for life long success. For more information visit www.fkoafterschool.org.