April 2022 TeamMates of the Month: Friendship at First Sight
Starting middle school a week or two late due to quarantining is not ideal, but Schoo sixth-grader Kendall’s worries were unfounded. “I was kind of nervous that everyone knew everyone else, but I made a ton of friends on the first day,” she says.
“Her social skills have grown,” says her TeamMates mentor Leslie. “She’s outgoing, energetic, and welcoming.”
Kendall finds she can still feel a little shy at times, though has never felt reserved with Leslie in their three years as TeamMates.
“I remember they said she might be kind of nervous and might not talk a lot,” says Leslie. “Then I met her and we just hit it off. There was never any awkwardness.”
“Instead of love at first sight, it was like friendship at first sight,” jokes Kendall.
“After talking over the years she feeds me little tidbits of [personal] stuff, then we learn more and more about each other,” says Leslie. “It makes you realize that you don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives and everyone is different.”
Kendall finds that meeting with Leslie every week has built her self-confidence. “I can be myself around her, so I started being myself at school,” she says.
Leslie calls Kendall one of her favorite people, and says their meetings are the highlight of her week. When her workplace, Ameritas, continued to work remotely last school year, their in-person visits were especially refreshing. “I am a social person, so working from home was hard for me,” she recalls. “I looked forward to our meeting probably more than any other time in the week.”
They often play games or do craft activities, but one of their favorite memories arose from not having a planned activity one visit. “Kendall had her computer and put a bunch of random words into a wheel and spun it. We played charades, but the words were like ‘carpet, wall’. Trying to play charades as ‘paint’ was so dumb, but it was hilarious.”
They remember having to stifle their laughter in the quiet school library. “It was so funny,” says Kendall.
TeamMates mentors are “kind of like your best friend,” says Kendall. “It’s really fun to hang out with them.”
Kendall looks forward to their future as TeamMates, especially “getting closer as we both grow up.”