Playing chess together at a nearby coffee shop, mentor Craig Gladwell finds sometimes surprising opportunities to encourage 15-year-old “Coby.”
“It might be boring for some, but we get along … and he often beats me at the game!” laughs Craig. They’ve met there regularly for the past year after being paired up through the COYFC City Life Center.
“I think I’ve been able to lend him some perspective, and I’m glad to offer it,” Craig said. Coby talks with Craig about school and friends, and Craig suggests more positive activities the teen might want to try. They’ve both connected over automotive training at COYFC’s Equip Skills Center where Craig volunteered and Coby has taken an intermediate level class.
Coby and his older brother have been active at the City Life Center for several years. Their family is involved in a local church, and Coby meets with a college-age friend for Bible study and fellowship, too.
“It’s not what I expected [mentoring a teenager to be like],” admits Craig, reflecting on how supported Coby already seems to be. But Craig sees the value in getting involved as another attentive adult in Coby’s life as the teen establishes his identity and interests. Despite some past trouble at school, Coby speaks of his teachers with fondness and shows real respect for his parents.
“I was worried at first about the age difference,” says Craig, but Coby gets along really well with adults. Craig thinks that might be because of the quality friendships Coby has cultivated with older staff and volunteers at Youth for Christ.
Mentoring might look different at various ages and stages of life, but Craig encourages others to give it a try, no matter what they think they might have to offer at first. You might be surprised what you learn in the process!
“It’s definitely a worthwhile use of your time,” said Craig. “I hope to continue.”
There’s no better time to sign up for a training with COYFC to become an in-school or after-school mentor – it’s National Mentoring Month! We have opportunities for you in one-on-one or group settings all over Central Ohio. “Resolve to Relate” in 2024 and join our efforts to build character and connections this year with youth in our community.