The Y Mentor Program serves more than 300 students in Anderson School District One and Pickens County and matches students with a caring, trusted adult who is as an additional role model in that young person's life. Mentors listen, support, guide and, perhaps most importantly, show up for 30 minutes each week.

Everyone, regardless of age, benefits from having positive one-on-one relationships with others. Childhood is an especially important time, and mentoring is the perfect way to invest in the life of a student! Mentors are a positive influence and catalyst in helping shape the future of our community.

Read this letter we received from the family of one of our wonderful mentees about what his mentor and the Y Mentor Program has meant in his life.

They say it takes a village to raise a family, and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I became very aware of my need for that village 5 years ago when I found myself divorced and raising 7 kids. My hands are full, to say the least, and I am stretched thin. The reality is that my family is broken, and, even at my very best as a mom, there are gaps in my parenting. Of my many concerns, I feel the weight and tension of 'trying to raise my boys to be men' to be one that is constantly at the forefront of my mind. I recognize that a mom has limitations, and boys need the unique influence, voice and strength that a man brings to speak into their lives in a way woman cannot.

So, I sought out a mentor for my oldest son Noah, who is now 12 years old, and in 6th grade. Noah is a sweet and special gift given to our family. Unfortunately, he is all too familiar with broken families, as he was pulled out of his birth family into ours as a foster kid and then adopted. He is a great kid- kind and caring- but doesn’t typically get noticed within a room full of boys. He flys under the radar. He doesn’t stand out in school because he struggles with inattentiveness, and getting good grades is a challenge. He isn’t super athletic or a superstar on the playground. He would be the kid with his nose in the dirt, fascinated by a pile of ants who were busy at work. If you were to ask Noah if he thought he was smart, he would tearfully tell you no. 

Sean Birkshire has been Noah’s mentor for 3 years. He is a father, a husband, and a helicopter pilot in the military. But he is also genuine and intentional, as he has met with Noah consistently week after week. If work or family obligations change his schedule, Noah knows when he will return. Sean would probably tell you that their 30 minutes at lunch each week doesn’t seem monumental or packed with continuous heavy conversation. However it is the steady, consistent time they spend together week to week that is so impactful and makes Sean greatly admired by Noah. 

In middle school each year there is a day that the kids can participate in job shadowing. Without hesitation or a second thought, Noah came home and had it already lined up to go with Sean that day.  What a day it was! They toured the offices and facilities of the military base and of course the helicopters! They talked about Sean’s job and his responsibilities. Noah even flew a helicopter simulator and happily reported that he didn’t crash it- but Sean did. Noah came home with a poster, a patch, a belly full of Chick-fil-A and talking non stop about the great day he had. Days later he was still recounting the various details of the things he learned and talked about spending another afternoon with Sean again like that next year. 

Noah is thriving and more resilient because of Sean. I’m thankful he consistently sees how a man works hard, takes on responsibility and loves others outside of his own family well. Noah feels more confident than he would have had he not spent time with Sean. He’s more motivated. He is certainly growing and changing for the good which makes me, as a mom, encouraged and hopeful that despite the given circumstances things will work out. 

I truly believe there are some gifts in life that no amount money could put value on. I believe that is true of Sean. I believe his voice, his time and impact on Noah cannot be truly measured on this side of eternity. I am beyond grateful for Sean’s commitment to be intentional and to love Noah well. I am extremely thankful he is apart of my village. 

October 27th, 2020