Vizma and Brayden

November 2016 TeamMates of the Month: A Trusting Relationship Through Common Interests

Brayden was in 7th grade, when she moved to Lincoln from her middle school in Hastings. At the time, it was not a welcome move from her point of view. TeamMates was recommended to her by her Lincoln school counselor. She was open try the idea, she said, if for no other reason than to get of Physical Education class.

Actually she was having a hard time transitioning to her new community and new middle school in Lincoln. When her school counselor suggested that being a part of TeamMates would help her by providing an adult mentor and a person to whom she could honestly talk, she agreed to participate and soon met her new mentor. “Vizma was someone I could talk to honestly. The first time we met, I felt she was someone I could trust.  I usually know the instant I meet whether I’ll get along with a person.” They clicked instantly, Brayden said.

They were able to share small talk at first and built a trusting relationship through common interests. “We like to write.  We both like to read,” Brayden said.  “I read her some of my stories I had written. She was the first person I would share these stories with. Everyone has chapters in their life they don’t want to share.  Eventually I would tell her things I couldn’t tell my parents.  She knew pretty much everything about me.  What scares me, what interests me. what I was afraid to loose, what I want to gain, where I want to go and where I’ve been,” Brayden said.

The experience was new for Vizma as well. “I didn’t know if I could be a TeamMate. I work at Runza and they are a big supporter of TeamMates. I applied, but honestly I was afraid I would get someone I couldn’t relate to, but when I met her, we started talking and we became a life-long friends.

Vizma said that she remembers the look on Brayden’s face about three times after they started meeting. “She asked who I report to? ‘I don’t report to anyone,’ I said. ‘ The only time I need to report to anyone, is if you are harming yourself.  I’m just here for you.'” Vizma said they are open and honest with each other. They don’t keep secrets. They have cultivated a special level of trust. Vizma said she sees her role as the listener. “I’ve been reading the book of Brayden all these years.”

“Everyone needs someone who is there for you every single week,” Brayden said.  “The most important thing is to have that person.  Vizma has been that person I can count on.”

Vizma looks forward to coming every week. “It hasn’t taken away from my own kids; talking to her helps me with my kids.” She said being a part of TeamMates gives her a different perspective on a teenager’s life

“Once a week I meet with Brayden.  She does most of the talking.  We have happy days and miserable days.” Regardless she said that when she leaves, she always has a skip in her steps.  “All those days I feel elated.  When someone needs a hug, they hug you back.  I still leave feeling elated.”

Brayden is now a senior in high school and a published author. “When I started writing the first draft of my book in 8th grade,” Brayden said, “I would send the stories to her, she would edit them for me.  She would print them out. And we talked about my stories.”

“We would discuss the characters, the new chapters and why they were feeling this way,” Vizma said.

Brayden also enjoys reading her poetry to Vizma. “I’m also a slam poet.  It is fun.  I like to read her my poetry.”

Neither of them enjoys doing crafts and Vizma said she was glad Brayden is a good student because she wouldn’t want to help with homework. “There is a quote,” Brayden said.  “Education is the only escape from poverty.” Doing well in school has always been a motivator for her to be on track for a successful future.  “I think about the long term.  I am an over thinker.” She realized early on in life that you don’t always have control over your own circumstances, but that education was a key and something that even in middle school, she could control.   “This is what I have now.  I can use it to make sure if today is not a good day, but tomorrow will be.  So I keep my grades ups.  There are times when life is hard, but you do it because you want tomorrow to be a better day.”

Brayden said she also realized early on that her teachers had a great deal of influence in her life. She thinks she would like to be a teacher.  “I want to be that person that says you are good enough and smart enough and I don’t care where you are from, you can go where ever you want to go.   So I’ve always known I want to go to college, and be a better person.”

Brayden is a high school senior and has found another creative outlet; she likes to write poetry.  “I speak from personal experience.  It comes from the heart.  I took a big risk and I did slam poetry,” Brayden said her high school qualified for the finals and through the experience she learned that high school students need coaches. “So in college I could be a coach for slam poetry.  I want to be a mentor, and meet with a young person.” Her longer term goal is to teach at the high school level and then maybe become a college professor. “I honestly love working with high school students.” Also she said, “I might write more books. “