Today, I’ll be accompanying my grandmother to the hospital for some tests. Yesterday, I found out that pain she’s been complaining about is a stomach aneurism, not ulcers like she’s been saying. Also turns out, she knew.
Finding the good: we’re going to attempt making this 79 year-old woman stop smoking. May the force be with us. If we succeed, she will have finally quit and her health will improve. If we don’t succeed, we tried. I’m fortunate enough to be with her now through all of this, no matter what happens.
Sometimes, I get all these big, fancy ideas and I’m so broad-thinking that I forget about what’s closest to me. “Help starts at home” comes to mind. For weeks, I’ve been talking about how I’d love to mentor more frequently than I do. I currently give one hour a week to a girl I just met, yet call my brother once every few weeks. Backwards. Ridiculous, really.
Mentoring, for me, is such a valuable relationship that allows me to understand the world of the youth today, the people who will one day be the ones in charge, while sharing the best of what I’ve learned with them. It truly is a mutually rewarding relationship. After I began mentoring, I realized how much I enjoyed it and how much I want to positively impact young people. What I overlooked, though, is that there is someone already in my life who needs my attention. Someone I can impact so much more simply because of the current standing of our relationship. He’s my brother.
I will sing the benefits of mentoring to anyone who’ll listen, which might not be that many people if I actually decide to sing them. Some may complain about not having the time or the availability within the set hours mandated by some program or school district. However, I can’t stress enough how important it is to realize that there is something you can do right now. Single parents are not anomalies. Emotionally unavailable parents are not anomalies. Parents who just need help are not anomalies. I am more than certain that you know someone who fits into one of the three categories. You don’t have to wait for the perfect moment; it will pass you by. You don’t have to wait to find the perfect program. Pick a child that’s already in your life and choose to make an impact in that person’s life. You can start today. Undoubtedly, there is a child who needs you.
Being as rich as he is, Bill Gates can definitely effect great change. He spoke at TED this year on how he’s trying to change the world right now. During his 20 minute talk, he asked how do we stop malaria and how do we improve education.
I truly enjoyed this speech in its entirety, but the highlights were at 5:05 – 5:30 and generally everything after 7:57 when he starts talking about education. He provides some startling statistics at 9:51 – 10:50.
According to the research Gates references, if you’re low income, you have less than a 25% chance of finishing college should you not drop out in high school. Over 30% of students entering high school in this country never finish. In some areas, the drop out rate is over 50%. I think it’s 40% here in Bexar County.
Everyone’s not built to be a teacher, and definitely not a good one. While effective teachers are certainly a large part of the solution, so are tutors and mentors. Get involved however you can. I recently signed up to mentor a high schooler since there’s one right across the street. One hour a week. Such a small commitment that can make a huge difference. Really, I wish I’d thought of it sooner. Yet and still…it’s never too late.
Communities In Schools is a nationwide nonprofit focused on preventing kids from dropping out. Sign up to tutor or mentor an elementary, middle, or high school student. Mentor multiple students…whatever your time permits. Call your nearest school and see how you can get involved to help. Let’s all do our part because none of us are disconnected from this phenomenon. None of us.