Planting Seeds

     I had the honor last night of attending the United Way Community Volunteer Celebration, an evening recognizing some of the many individuals from high school age to retirement who have given of themselves without seeking reward to build community.

     State representative Al Pscholka spoke briefly and told the story of an 11 year old boy who's father left the house one day and essentially never came back though 35 years later they did have contact.  It's not hard for boys of that age to find trouble.  Particularly in single parent homes regardless of how amazing and wonderful the mother is.  The boy's mom had to go to training to become a housekeeper to provide for the family but then she got cancer.

     While mom was in training however, an interesting thing happened. Those of us with faith would call it an intervention by God. A man, father to four children of his own who lived a few blocks away and coached little league baseball, began spending time with this boy.  After coming home from work at night, and not ignoring his own family in any sense he spent an hour or two a couple of days a week with this eleven year old.  For years. I literally had tears in my eyes. Turns out that boy was Al Pscholka.  Sixteen years ago while working for the Community for Life Long Learning as part of Cornerstone Alliance, Al began a program called HOSTS (Help One Student Succeed) Mentoring in the community. Even with the time he has to spend in Lansing today, Al still mentors in Benton Harbor for at least an hour a week.

Source: St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation
     The Margaret B. Upton Volunteer of the Year was William (Bill) Marohn.  As a 2003 nominee and 2004 recipient of the award I'm honored to serve on that committee.  I'm even more humbled be included in the short list of recipients. Bill, like every other honoree I've ever met doesn't lead or volunteer looking for recognition.  Well beyond the list of organizations he has helped build in the region is another unmeasurable number.   It's the number of individuals whom Bill has mentored in leadership, volunteering, non-profit board service and giving that now serve throughout the region. We couldn't begin to count them, though I am blessed to have learned much from Bill over the years.

     Monday a local executive asked me to mentor them in professional and leadership development. Thursday morning I was having coffee with a friend who has similar passions for organization development when it occurred to me that I was being mentored and had been for months.  On the journey of this life we never fully reach a point where we don't need to have one or several individuals who hold us accountable, push us to grow, and help us focus and achieve our dreams and objectives.  Hopefully we at the same time are sharing with at least one other individual in the same way creating the future building community.  One individual at a time.  If you're not aware of the benefits to both mentor and mentee, it goes well beyond the measurable.  Who are you mentoring?


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