Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I Got Carded - A Mentor's Tale

Mr. Dick Ebling got “Carded” after he retired from his profession as an optometrist—that is, he was recruited to be a mentor by “the best mentor recruiter ever” at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, Mary Card. 

He couldn’t say “no” any longer and is so glad he and his mentee, Diego, were matched together at Spring Woods Middle School three years ago. Diego is now a sophomore at Spring Woods High School, and he and Mr. Dick meet for lunch every week.

Mr. Ebling recalled the day he met Diego. What impressed him the most at the time was the seventh-grader's handshake. “I recall taking a class when I was in seventh grade that taught me to always have a firm handshake, not a wimpy one. 

When I first shook hands with Diego, I was impressed, and felt like this kid has confidence.” Diego also recalls meeting Mr. Dick, and thinking “he was pretty cool.”

“We are such good friends,” said Mr. Ebling. With a twinkle in his eye, Mr. Ebling continues, “We have not had any struggles in our relationship, although I do challenge Diego to do better in school and about how he spends his free time.” 

Diego’s wide smile shows that he takes this “advice” in stride, and knows his mentor wants what is best for him. His mother, too, is a strong supporter of Diego’s success, and that of his four other brothers. 

She has a goal for all her boys to go to college and has offered to take any one of them out to a fine dinner if they bring home straight A’s. Impressing his mentor has also been motivation for Diego to be more engaged in school and get better grades. “I tell him all the time to not settle for C’s and D’s," says Ebling. 

"More opportunities in life will go your way when you have A’s and B’s on your record,” says the mentor. Diego has this goal in mind as he thinks about his future. “Mr. Dick pushes me to do better, and I want to put in extra effort to go beyond what he is asking of me,” said Diego. 

This friendly mentee is taking a welding class that has sparked his interest in a possible career and would like to go to college, not only for himself but to please his mom and his mentor.

Mr. Ebling complimented Diego on being very intelligent and a quick learner. “He can do anything when he concentrates and is focused,” said his mentor. This is often the topic of their lunchtime conversations, along with news in the headlines, and “other random topics,” said Diego. 

Recent conversations about election results and the Super Bowl found them to be of similar opinions. Mr. Ebling volunteers as a teacher in a drug and alcohol treatment facility, which also provides conversation fodder for this duo about the dangers of getting involved in additive behaviors. 

Diego agrees that staying away from temptation is the best plan. He stays healthy by working out to become a better football player for Spring Woods High School, and helps the pole vaulters of the school with their training.

Advice mentor and mentee have for future participants in the Spring Board Mentoring Program?  “Just try it, and you will like it.” 

Mr. Ebling adds, “If someone just commits to mentor for one year, they will be hooked as I am.” Diego adding, “Having someone to talk to who you can trust is great. It does help.” 

Diego’s mom once made Mr. Ebling a t-shirt that read, “World’s Greatest Mentor.”  Diego certainly thinks so and looks forward to staying friends with Mr. Dick through to graduation and beyond. That’s what happens when you get “Carded.”


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