I'm a 2nd grade school teacher in Milwaukee, and once a week for 90 minutes I work one-on-one with a 7th grader who reads on a 1st grade reading level. We work on sight words, read books together, read books online, and play word/vocabulary/phonics games. We've even created our own "Readers Theatre" plays that we perform together along with Kevin from the community house. One was about Kobe Bryant and other basketball stars that the 7th grader is interested in!! Since tutoring for over a year, I've seen academic growth in the student, and it's brought us together, learning about each others families, likes, and dislikes. Often at the end of our tutoring time, we do an activity together unrelated to reading, such as playing air hockey or looking up interesting things online. I know my time is helping change one person's situation, but it is also changing me.
There is nothing more rewarding than a good day working with your hands. At the community house I experienced that and much more. It was exciting to cut, hammer, wire, and paint - turning a hard luck house into a home. I am a bit of a perfectionist and focused on the condition of the house as the end goal. But the real transformation is not the building but the amazing, caring community that has formed around it. The community house has taught me to meet people where they are and find beauty in the chaos of creation. I have been blessed through my time at the house by the neighbors, other volunteers, and the entire community.
Being a mentor has been both rewarding and challenging. When I first met my mentee, it was during Vacation Bible School and I had no idea that she and I would eventually have such a close relationship. Over a period of four months, God used different little moments to bring us together in a mentoring relationship. What started as one day a week for 1-2 hours has developed into sharing life together. We hang out getting ice cream, going to the zoo, going sledding, and a bunch of other fun things. But we also have just do ordinary things like running errands together, eating dinner together, going to church, working on schoolwork, walking the dog and other everyday things. She has become a part of our family.