An interview with a CYC Match

Cameron and Jeff after going out to eat together
Cameron and Jeff after going out to eat

Jeff and Cameron have been matched for over one year. Jeff is a former marine who works with Vantiv, and Cameron is a freshman at Dater who loves baseball and cooking. In honor of National Mentoring Month, they agreed to share some of their mentoring experiences. 

Q: What are your favorite things to do together?
Cameron: Going to LaRosa’s and talking.
Jeff: I like going to the library to work together. We’ve been to several different libraries.

Q: What do you have in common?
Jeff: It’s great when you realize that so many of us grew up the same in some ways. We didn’t just go to college, we flipped burgers to go to college.
Cameron: He’s mature, and I’m mature. (Pause) When we need to be. (They laugh)

Q: What have you learned from each other?
Cameron: Jeff’s taught me that you’ve got to commit to things. I have a mentor, and that is a responsibility. I can’t ignore his phone calls.
Jeff: Growing up with a single parent is tough. It adds a layer of complexity that just isn’t there when you have two parents, and I’m just talking logistics. Last year he was really struggling in school because he was having so much trouble getting there. This year the transportation has been resolved, and he’s doing much better.

Q: What is a favorite memory?
Cameron: Just meeting him for the first time, actually having a conversation, child to man. Realizing that I now have a male figure to look up to.
Jeff: I loved taking him to a pre-apprenticeship meeting at a brick-laying business. They let him lay concrete blocks – he was really good at it! They challenged him, too.
Cameron: Oh, yeah. The second I met Jeff’s friend, he made sure I knew how to shake hands telling me how you have to look someone in the eye.

Q: What kinds of obstacles, if any, have you encountered?
Jeff: There had been the transportation issues, but those worked out. Then he got suspended earlier this year, and I could only think, ‘Really? Is this where you want your life progressing?’
Cameron: Yeah. That was a moment of standstill for me. I let down my teachers. And I’d been doing really well until that moment.

Q: What hopes do you have for your life, Cameron? And what hopes do you have for him, Jeff?
Cameron: I just want it to be stable. It doesn’t have be having a house, it could be an apartment, but I’d like to have stuff and say I earned that stuff.
Jeff: I’m trying to get Cameron associated with apprenticeships, to be aware of all the options out there. We’ve looked at brick laying, next we’re looking at sheet metal work. Cameron can’t do real work until he’s 18 because of unions, but meeting people in the industries and seeing what kind of work is out there is a great start.
Cameron: Baseball is a dream, but if I can’t do that I love to cook. I’d look at culinary school.

Q: What do you think others should know about mentoring? 
Jeff: Something you said earlier, Cameron, about it being a responsibility – it was so true. You have to avail yourself, I can’t do this for you. And at the same time, I have to give up something in order to receive.
Cameron: Mentoring can change you, give you a path, and lead you down roads to college and job opportunities.
Jeff: We’ve got to do what we can to lower these perceived barriers, and they are perceived, of not having the time or resources. It’s just plain being there. The rest falls into place.