Everyone who knows me would definitely agree when I say that I am a big “people person.” So call it fitting when I tell you that one of the best things about being a part of Inspire the Youth is meeting and getting to know our incredible mentors, tutors, and IIC therapists. What’s awesome is that everyone on our team comes from different walks of life, and so brings a fresh perspective on the work they do with our kids.
One of our mentors, Sharrieff Bugg, has dedicated two and a half years to working with kids at Inspire the Youth, many of whom are from his hometown, Paterson. Sharrieff shared that much of his drive and dedication to working with youths in the Passaic County city comes from knowing what it felt like to be that kid growing up. “The experience of having the opportunity to mentor children, helping to deal with challenges at home and school has been great… Because of the life experiences we [the kids and I] shared together, we can grow and learn from it.” Life often gets tough for kids growing up in Paterson, just as it did for Sharrieff. But this passionate mentor has made it his purpose to show kids that there is light at the other end of the tunnel, his history allowing him to “communicate and guide the kids through their life experiences.”
“You need to let go of who you are and to adapt to the environment of the youth,” he explained. “Each one is different, and you have to do what’s best for the kid.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Alicia Figueroa, a Bergen County resident and one of Inspire the Youth’s newest team members, gave us a perspective of someone who’s new to mentoring. Two months into the position, she shared her reasons for joining as a mentor: “I love working with kids. I thought that being a mentor would challenge me a little more. I want to make more of an impact of being able to teach them or help them through a struggle. God put me here to work with children where I could truly help.” New as she is, Alicia has already created a “big sister” relationship to a teen she’s been working with. “She was just switched to another program. But, she asked to stay with me. It’s really encouraging that she really wanted to stay with me, and I’m still able to work with her.”
“Kindness goes a long way even though you may feel uncomfortable,” Alicia pointed out. “With an open heart, you are able to realize what these kids are going through.”
Despite the differences in their backgrounds and experiences, the commitment that both these mentors pour into our youth is what makes them the backbone of not just our organization, but of our communities.
Thank you guys for sharing your experiences!