By Kay Wolfkill

Community! Youth Concepts has a philosophy of matching mentors and mentees based on career aspirations to prepare youth for school, work and life. Cally and Angie share an interest in the medical field, but their mentoring relationship is so much more than that.

Cally Mills is a medical student at Des Moines University. A little over a year ago, she saw a post on the volunteer board at her university expressing the need for a mentor to a youth interested in medicine. It seemed like a great idea, so she signed up. In April of 2017 she was matched with her mentee, Angie. Angie is sixteen and wants to become a nurse practitioner. She reached out to Wendy Havemann at Community! Youth Concepts because she had a lot of goals but wasn't sure how she would accomplish them. Since being matched they have become a bit of a dynamic duo.

In December, Cally was nominated for an Excellence in Mentoring Award for going the extra mile with Angie. She has allowed her mentee to get out into the community, join new programs and make new friends. Before being matched, Angie often stayed home because her parent was working and she lacked access to transportation. Together they have visited the Art Center, attended CYC events and volunteered for Meals From the Heartland and the Iowa Youth Homeless Shelter.

Recently the match participated in a local park cleaning event. After people in the neighborhood noticed what they were doing, some people came out to thank them and others even joined their efforts. It was a defining moment for the both of them because other people were inspired by their volunteering.

Cally also introduces Angie to the kinds of opportunities that she wanted a mentor for including college visits, signing up for CNA classes, and other events where Angie can learn about possible career paths. Cally hopes that by doing this she has been able to  "allow Angie to expand her perceptions of herself and what she is capable of." Angie says that Cally has "helped her family in a big way by by making opportunities possible."

A fun memory that Angie shared with us was the time that she tired yoga with Cally. She learned that yoga was actually super tricky, but that Cally was really good at it. Another favorite memory was when the match took a road trip to Omaha to attend the Global Health Conference. "It was just a really cool bonding experience," she reflected. Angie admires that her mentor is driven, and that she is open about both her flaws and strengths so that Angie may learn how to be prepared for the future and understand that there is always a way to get through a challenge. "She has taught me to always find a bright side in bad situations. She has also taught me how to take risks and have patience."

Cally also believes that being a mentor has had a profound impact on her character. "It has made me really think about the words I say to people on a daily basis, placing more importance on the things I say and how others may perceive them," she said. As a mentor she knows Angie looks up to her and values her words, so she is conscious of how her words or actions may appear to others; even when Angie is not around.

Cally is inspired by her mentee's general caring nature in her everyday interactions with people. Angie has also become a mentor figure to a couple of children that Cally knows who are going through a tough time. Angie participates in the Youth Volunteer Corps, and the match often brings the children along to participate in service events. "Angie has become a role model to them as well. It has really come full circle, because Angie wants to work with kids and now these kids want to be a doctor."

We think their mentoring relationship has come full circle, too. With a mentor, youth report a 90% increase in becoming mentors themselves*. Youth with a mentor are also 78% more likely to volunteer in their communities*. You too can make a positive impact on a young person. Click here to find out how.

*Bruce, Mary and Bridgeland, John (2014). The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring. Washington, D.C.: Civic Enterprises with Hart Research Associates for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.