Carter and Gabe

January 2021 TeamMates of the Month: Adapt, Trust, and Overcome

“I think we’re making the best of it,” says Gabe, Zooming in from Iowa where the Air Guard has assigned him to manage a COVID-19 testing site.

Gabe’s mentee, Carter, sits at Pound Middle School wearing his required face covering. He explains how it’s interesting to be a kid during “the COVID mess.”

“It’s like being in a mess that you’d never guess would happen,” he says. Beginning middle school during a pandemic hasn’t been easy. “But hey, we’ve gotta adapt,” the wise sixth-grader professes.

While Gabe is in Iowa, the pair meet virtually twice per month, through Zooms facilitated by TeamMates’ staff. They have taken advantage of the online activity ideas curated by TeamMates, trying out word scrambles, silly “would you rather?” questions, and their shared favorite, virtual escape rooms.

This isn’t the first time they’ve had to be apart. Gabe was deployed overseas for a portion of their 3+ years as TeamMates, but they corresponded through letters and emails. “Sometimes it’s just been rolling with it; you just adapt and overcome,” says Gabe.

“Sometimes I know he won’t always literally be there, but I know he can ‘be there,’ and no matter where he is I can always trust him,” says Carter. He describes TeamMates as “having a friend that you can always have fun with and having a person be by your side.”

He shares how his TeamMate has encouraged him to believe in himself, to overcome obstacles. One of Carter’s concerns when transitioning to middle school was earning good grades. “Some people say I sometimes put pressure on myself, but talking with Gabe and having fun with him makes me think everything isn’t that bad.”

Hanging out with Carter is relaxing for Gabe too, who in addition to serving as an Air Guard Captain and Aircraft Maintenance Officer, is also a father of five. “There’s a lot of chasing kids. Sometimes you’ve got a zillion things going on but you can step out for half hour to an hour and see ‘what’s going on in your world?’” says Gabe. “Carter’s pretty close to the same age as my kids so sometimes gaining some different perspective on situations helps at home too.”

For now, Carter and Gabe will continue to meet virtually, lamenting over Husker football losses, and making their way through online escape rooms, adapting and overcoming, one Zoom at a time.

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