Genesis and Heather

September 2022 TeamMates of the Month: Stronger Than I Thought

Genesis and her TeamMates mentor Heather aren’t shy to admit their first time meeting back in 2019 felt a little awkward. They laugh remembering how they didn’t know what to talk about, since three years later they have no shortage of conversation. 

“When we do projects we just talk, talk, talk,” said Heather. 

Reuniting for the first time this school year recently, “We picked up right where we left off. We had a lot of catching up to do,” said Heather.

First matched at Belmont Elementary, playing games helped foster communication, Heather explained, “but I think our relationship really developed once we started doing…”

“Artsy stuff,” finished Genesis. 

Their arts projects are a highlight of their TeamMates experience and connect their mutual love of animals. They have created crafts featuring ostriches, cows, and bunnies to name a few, but it was an unsuccessful attempt that sticks out as a highlight. They once attempted to create a parrot to resemble Genesis’s three green-cheeked conure pet birds. “We were watching a step by step video. It involved so many feathers and took so long, but it turned out looking like a pigeon!” 

Another time, a fleece pillow project went awry. “It was supposed to be a heart shape, but it looked more like a bean than a heart,” laughed Genesis.

“That’s the fun thing about projects though. They don’t have to be perfect, do they?” said Heather. “We learn along the way and sometimes we even try them again.”

Genesis says looking forward to visits with Heather even helps her get ready for school faster and that their projects give her “a spark.” Once, their artistic endeavors even led her to win a button design contest hosted by TeamMates. Genesis’s rendition of her sneaker was featured in a TeamMates fitness fundraiser. Heather even promised to hand deliver the entry to prevent it getting lost in the mail.

The achievement “was a big thing in building our relationship,” said Heather. 

She has enjoyed watching Genesis grow since she was a more reserved third grader, and now, a positive and confident sixth grader leading her on a tour of Goodrich Middle School.

“I think Heather kind of opened up my shell,” said Genesis. “Now I talk to everybody. Even if I don’t even know them, I just say hi. I can make friends with anybody. I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was.”

Heather and Genesis with the winning button in February 2020
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