Tag Archives: Success Stories

The Importance of a Bike

My name is Denny. I’m 56, married for 34 years and have 2 grown daughters.  My wife and I moved to this area of the country 4 years ago from N.E. Ohio in order for me to accept a new job.

Many years ago I read “The Purpose Driven Life” by pastor and author Rick Warren.  I have always felt blessed to have the childhood, marriage, and daughters that God gave me, and I was looking for the right opportunity to give back.  The Catholic Charities Mentoring Program connected with my need.

My mentee is a 10 year old boy that has not had an adult male in his life with any consistency for several years.

This experience is no different than building relationships with adults: it starts with trust.  However, a youth has a limited frame of reference, and only knows what they have seen and heard.  It’s amazing how influenced kids are by their surroundings, and that can be positive or negative.  It has been very rewarding to see positive behaviors appear if even slowly, as it is confirmation that we all have the capacity to do the right thing. We just need to have some positive role models to encourage the appropriate behaviors.

After the first few months, I approached my mentee’s guardian about acquiring a bike for him.  They do not have private or public transportation.  He lives near the center of a small town and getting to the public pool, parks, and friends by bike would not have been overly risky.  I asked him what type of a bike he would like and then set out to find some used bike choices on Craig’s List.  We made a day of it and discussed how this was an opportunity for him to show everyone that he could be responsible with something of value. When we found the one that he desired, the look of joy on his face will always be remembered. Over time, the bike has become an important tool in our mentoring relationship.  We often go for bike rides during our mentoring time.  We also have, over time, had to repair the bike together, and I have used it as a tool to discuss other things regarding respect, responsibility, and gratitude.  I feel the bike has created a positive memory for my mentee to look back on.

I recently stopped into the Boy’s and Girl’s club to fill out the background check form to permit me to participate in the in-house activities. When I introduced myself to the head counselor he said, “Wow, whatever you are doing with him, it is really working.  We have noticed that he controls himself so much better than before.  If something would upset him previously, he would swear and leave the facility.  Now, we find he will go over and sit by himself and gather control and then return to the group activity.”

As stated above, we all just need to have some positive role models to encourage the appropriate behavior.

*Story written Dec. 2014 for the Catholic Charities annual report. Though Denny and his mentee maintain their friendship, due to a change in life circumstances, we are currently looking for another quality mentor for this energetic young man.


Salina’s Story

*Used with permission

This will be my third year in the YES (Youth Engagement Services) Program. The YES Club is not just for the field trips. It means so much more. For example, we get extra help with homework and classes we’re struggling in. When I was in 8th grade, I struggled so badly. At that time, I didn’t know YES Club existed, so I didn’t get the help I needed to pass all my classes. I failed all but one of my classes. At the end of the year, one of my teachers had emailed Mrs. Rae, who was the coordinator at that time, and asked her about getting help next year so I could pass. I was enrolled officially in the program my second year of 8th grade. Since I’ve been in the program, I have passed all my classes and I’ve learned that doing my homework is the main key and attendance. I’d miss so much school, but now I have perfect attendance.

The program is good for more than school help. I had a lot of help with personal issues. I knew I could go to them, and I’ll get the advice that I need to know. I used to be a very shy girl. I wouldn’t talk to anyone or try to make friends. The longer I was in YES Club, I got more confident. We went on trips to colleges. We volunteered as servers at a food tasting at a church, and can I just say how much it boosted my confidence to go up to complete strangers and ask if they’d like to try something, risking being told to go away? But of course, everyone was so nice and polite. For fun trips, we get reward outings every marking period. Everyone who is passing their classes can go. If you’re not passing all your classes, you don’t get the privilege to go.

One of the big things for me is I learned to make friends. If I hadn’t joined YES Club, I would not have my six best friends I have now. I recommend to anyone who is struggling with school or anything at home to join YES Club. It helps so much. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t joined YES Club, and I owe a big thanks to YES Club and everyone that has run it in the past three years.