June 2019 TeamMates of the Month: Helping Each Other
It was like coming home for Kim as she entered St. Joseph’s Catholic School to meet her TeamMates mentee for the first time. Her sons had attended the school, and she knew the people and traditions at St. Joseph. An employee of Lincoln Public Schools, Kim had been encouraged to become a TeamMate by her supervisor. Still, as she headed for her first meeting, she wondered, “What do I have to offer?”
At St. Joseph’s, fifth-grade Ashlyn was also nervous to meet her new TeamMate. Although shy, Ashlyn felt hopeful on the October day she met Kim.
First meetings are often awkward, but the discomfort was short-lived for the new match. Kim and Ashlyn began playing games, and as they competed, the conversation began to flow. Kim, accustomed to parenting boys, enjoyed the company of a female.
During their first year, Kim and Ashlyn experimented with baking. “It did not turn out at all,” Ashlyn says. “We both brought supplies, and even a pan that cuts the brownies for you, but the batter was too runny.”
“I told you that I wasn’t a good baker,” Kim admits. Although baking wasn’t Kim’s forte, building a solid friendship with Ashlyn came easily.
Ashlyn felt that she could be herself around Kim. “I relaxed and knew I could show her how weird I was.”
“We shared our weird,” Kim inserts.
Ashlyn also felt comfortable sharing the dynamics of being a middle school girl with Kim. “Ashlyn was dealing with hard things outside of school, plus the girl drama, but she stuck it out and never played the victim role,” Kim says.
Kim was going through her own struggles. Her oldest son had been diagnosed with cancer. Ashlyn was there to offer support to her mentor through the stress. She knew the heartache because both her aunt and grandmother had battled cancer.
Four years into their relationship, Kim has witnessed dramatic positive change in her mentee. “The amount of growth is enormous,” she says. “Ashlyn has learned to process difficulties, work them out, and move on. She’s become more mature.” Her school attendance steadied. Her school work improved. And most importantly, she grew in confidence.
“It is amazing the impact you can have on a person who needs someone to care,” Kim says.
“It’s the best thing that can happen to you,” says Ashlyn. “TeamMates is definitely worth doing. You just need to find the right connection to make it work, and we did.”
“I was misguided,” Kim admits. “I thought I would be the one to help Ashlyn, but we’ve grown with helping each other get through hard things.”