National Mentoring Month: I am a Mentor Day

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At Buckle, we’re on a mission to give back to our community and youth through supporting the efforts of mentoring.

This past year, one program held our special interest – the TeamMates mentoring program based out of Omaha, NE. Originally started by former University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy, this organization began with 22 football athletes mentoring in a single school to 145 chapters spread across four states and serving more than 8,000 youth through partnerships.*

*Claps for this outstanding feat.

To celebrate our own involvement with this program, we would like to highlight one of the Kearney chapter mentors for her ability to inspire youth while juggling twin girls and a full-time career with grace.

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Meet Jaci

When did you decide to become a mentor?

I have been a Teammate mentor for the past 10 years. My Dad was a teacher at Kearney High School and gave my name to the Teammate coordinator, Deb Eickhoff. I’ll always remember her words when she called to ask me if I was interested. She said, “You would be a great mentor.” I was surprised by this as I didn’t think of myself as someone who had anything to offer as a mentor. I soon learned that to be a mentor all I needed was a small amount of time each week, a pair of ears to listen and a heart to care.

How many mentees have you had over the years? 

My first Teammate and I were together from her 7th Grade year until she graduated.  School was extremely difficult for her and as she got closer and closer to graduation we spent more time staying focused on homework, making sure she came to school each day on time and dreaming about everything she could do when she had her diploma. When she found out she would graduate, my Teammate called to tell me she made it and that she couldn’t have done it without me.  I was so proud of her.

I am now paired with my second Teammate and we have been together for 3 years.

How often do you visit your mentee?

 I meet with my Teammate for one hour each week at her school over lunch.  During our time together, we may go for a walk and talk or work on a craft and talk.  Some Teammate pairs play cards or games. Some work on homework. Some just talk. There is no agenda or checklist for our time together.  The goal is to show the students that we are another adult in their lives who cares about them and wants to help them to succeed in school, graduate and attend college if they choose.

 

“I soon learned that to be a mentor all I needed was a small amount of time each week, a pair of ears to listen and a heart to care.”

 

Have you attended any of your mentees school events or extracurricular activities while they were in school?

My second mentee is a freshman and very involved in band.  I wasn’t able to see her perform live this year, but we watched videos of both her field marching show and the Harvest of Harmony parade together during our meeting times at school.

Outside of our weekly visits, our Teammate group does monthly Teammate Night Out.  This could be a movie night, game night, climbing the rock wall at UNK or a night at the Big Apple.  It is a fun way to spend time together and offer activities that some of the students may not otherwise be able to participate in.

 

“When she found out she would graduate, my Teammate called to tell me she made it and that she couldn’t have done it without me. I was so proud of her.”

 

Why be involved in mentoring?

There are so many kids out there who simply need one more person as part of the support system in their life. Maybe they come from a single parent home, or a very large family where they don’t get much one on one time with their parents, or a family where education is not seen as a priority, or maybe they have a perfectly “normal” home life, but talking to someone other than a parent or teacher offers them a chance to get a different point of view.

Who can become a mentor? 

The qualifications are simple: Be at least 18 years old and have a little time to share, two ears to listen and a heart to care. I promise…YOU would be a great mentor!

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