Elsa: OUr Interview with a Dare to Dream Mentor
“I just get to be a consistent person who cares what happens to them.”
Elsa has been matched with her Dare to Dream teen for about two months but they've been connected much longer through our partner organization, Foster Supports of Jefferson County. The two have been able to create a lifelong connection that is based on consistency and safety. Our Dare to Dream program offers an opportunity to individually serve an aged-out or at-risk to age out youth in foster care. Our mentors are advocates, teachers, guides, role models, valued friends, and available resources.
We had the opportunity to share some time with Elsa and ask a few questions about her experience as a mentor and how she has been impacted. Here is what Elsa had to say:
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A DARE TO DREAM MENTOR?
I liked the idea of being a friend to a teen that is getting their life ready to launch. For them there has not been much consistency with a person who has belief in them. I am honored that they said yes to this relationship.
WHAT TYPE OF SUPPORT DO YOU PROVIDE YOUR YOUTH?
In regular meetups, I am telling them by my actions that I follow through and think they are fun to be with. We talk about what they want to discuss and I make sure I focus on them. We have looked into how to apply for a job and met the personnel man at Carl’s Lumber. We have talked a lot about school, helped them get registered and what school means to them. I attended their IEP, met his family, and I fed them what they wanted!
HOW DOES BEING A MENTOR IMPACT YOUR YOUTH AND YOURSELF?
They seem to be happy when I come see them and they teach me about Magic, the Gathering. They were quite happy to see their former speech teacher who is a friend of mine. Being a mentor helps define our relationship, I don’t have to fix them or the system they are in…I just get to be a consistent person who cares what happens to them.
WHAT’S MOST DIFFICULT OR FRUSTRATING ABOUT BEING A MENTOR?
Trying to reach them. They do not have minutes on their phone and they do not answer emails. We do have a consistent meeting time at home where we both are each time.
WHAT’S MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING A MENTOR?
Their smile and willingness to be involved with an adult who cares.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT FOSTER CARE?
No matter what the situation is it is very tough to not have a family that you can count on to see you through life. At 16, they have a roof over their head and love from a family member but are missing so many pieces. They have had many extremely rough times that have left scars.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE US TO KNOW?
Foster care can provide what a person needs to grow and develop especially when the community surrounds you by guiding you through these various stages of life. Each person in our larger community can contribute something to a foster child that completes the picture. It is not hard to love a child or teen and give yourself to see another blossom.