Research has shown that the consistent presence of a mentor in a young person’s life can have a positive impact on the child’s education, decision-making, and goal-setting. For Bobby (mentor) and Dandeyel (mentee, nicknamed ‘DJ’), consistency takes place in the form of traditions. In two and a half years, Bobby and DJ have begun a number of traditions including: eating a steak dinner if DJ receives all A’s and B’s, talking about the story of Jesus each Christmas, having everyone in Emporium Pies sing “Happy Birthday” to DJ as they celebrate with pie, attending Mercy Street events, and having a serious conversation every time the two are together. In DJ’s words, “The things that we do and the way that we talk makes Bobby feel like a brother.”
At twelve years old, DJ is quick to flash a smile and answers questions with the seriousness of an adult. He is both funny and insightful, polite and goofy. He enjoys his math, science, technology, and gym classes and dreams of becoming either a baseball player or a technician. He has moved to several different areas across the Dallas metroplex within his lifetime, and Bobby continues to meet him wherever he is.
Bobby is intentional in setting aside time to discuss weighty topics such as family, school, and salvation. DJ says that Bobby has helped him learn to start conversations and make new friends. They also have a ritual every time Bobby is dropping DJ off at home. “Bobby asks, ‘What are you going to do this week?’ and I’ll say, ‘Take care of my momma and my siblings, and be a leader not a follower,’” DJ shares. Bobby has also challenged DJ to participate in activities that seem daunting: horseback riding, ice skating, ziplining, and rope swinging. DJ admits that he is always glad he accepted the challenge.
‘Mutual transformation’ is the phrase Mercy Street uses to describe mentoring relationships, and Bobby and DJ embody this core value. Bobby explains that in the span of their relationship, he has spent more time with DJ than anyone else in his life. “When I first signed up to be a mentor, I thought this would be a way to have a positive impact on the life of someone else,” Bobby reveals. “But DJ has had a bigger impact on me than I will ever have on him. Mentoring is a lot of fun, and it has taught me about friendship, trust, and love. It is pretty special.” He says that DJ cares deeply for his family and friends, and is encouraged by the way DJ shares and thinks of others.
The consistency that Bobby offers to DJ has built a bridge between their two different worlds. DJ shares that as they have gotten to know each other well, trust has been formed. “I noticed he believed in me, and our relationship just kept getting better,” says DJ fondly. Bobby acknowledges that they are able to connect and learn about each others’ backgrounds, differences, and similarities. Relationships like Bobby and DJ’s are nurtured through support from their Mentor Coordinator, mentor/mentee events, resources for mentors, and more.