By Michelle Jones

Sloane Morrow knows what it is like to be in poverty. Growing up in a single-parent household, Sloane   had to overcome many obstacles in her life. But she also knows about the importance of having hope, and of sharing that hope with young people who are in similar situations. Her desire to share hope with others is why she became a mentor with Teammates of Storm Lake.

Sloane was matched with Marlan Garcia 4 years ago through BV Buddies, a collaboration between Teammates of Storm Lake and Buena Vista University. Before connecting with her mentor, Marlan had endured a lot of struggles. Like Sloane, Marlan’s parents are very hard working people but do not have college degrees.  It is Sloane’s support and encouragement that has created a positive, lasting impact on Marlan’s life. Because of Sloane’s influence, Marlan’s grades have improved and she has become more involved in extracurricular activities. And like Sloane, Marlan will be a first generation college student. 

“Having a mentor has pushed my mentee to get involved in school activities, consider college as a post-secondary option and [to] become more outgoing. She has evolved from a shy eighth grader to an energetic, peppy, cheerleading and dance team member high school student, who wants to pursue a degree in dance therapy,” says Sloane.

“[Having a mentor has] pushed me to do better in school. I want to go to college now,” says Marlan.

“Marlan’s siblings have all had children before they have graduated from high school. Through mentoring, Sloane has been able to help Marlan process this and is trying to help her make the right decisions so she can attend college without additional challenges,” says Angie Woodford, Mentoring Coordinator for Teammates of Storm Lake.

Through their time together, Sloane has been a constant source of guidance and support for Marlan.  And through the years, they have formed a lasting friendship with each other.

“One of my absolute favorite memories involving my mentee and I happened last January [2014]. I received the [Excellence in Mentoring Award] and was asked to attend the ceremony at the Capitol. I knew that a few advisors from my university and my family would be there, but I was not expecting my mentee to be there. I turned around and there she was with flowers and a smile on her face. I started crying and we started hugging. I was so moved because my role as a mentor is to be there for her and there she was supporting me. The roles were reversed and I realized that our relationship had grown to have mutual support. I realized from that experience that all along she was the one truly making the impact on me,” says Sloane.

You too can provide hope, guidance, and support to someone. Click here to become a mentor or find a program in your area.