The Spaceship of Segregation
No one can be everything you want them to be. It's not your job to create a clone of your own character in the person you are Mentoring. You are not a potter with a piece of clay.
You are more of a chef who creates a meal and presents it on a plate for consumption. Do not force feed your personal beliefs into anybody - that causes resentment. A good Mentor presents food with a vision that shows why consumption would be beneficial.
The best kind of motivation is self motivation. Season the meal that you're offering with encouragement. You cannot feed somebody their own success - they have to achieve it on their own. "Success cannot be force fed as a meal." Give them a menu, give them the food and let them do the eating. Provide instruction and then give them space to grow. Personal space should be a personal creation.
AID to MENTOR NAVIGATION Part 31
I left my home this morning for an appointment with a homeless man. Last night (11-21-13) he walked into our Youth Center. I haven't seen him in almost a year. When he first started coming around he would act very gruff and demanding. He wanted some food on his timeline - he didn't want to wait for our cooks to get done preparing the meal.
He smelled like most homeless folks do. Their clothes are dirty and they lack the necessary items of personal hygiene. We serve a smorgasbord style meal for our snack and dinner. The kids did not want to stand anywhere near someone who had an odor. They did not want to touch the food after he had filled his plate. His hands were clean but they perceived him as a dirty person who could contaminate the food. They gave this homeless man plenty of space. They created space through avoidance. They created space through lack of understanding and compassion. They created segregation between themselves and a person who was hurting.
We began seeking a solution about the unwelcome space of segregation in the food line. At a Food Bank of WNY Seminar, we received some very valuable advice: "Have the homeless man sit down and let the kids serve him." It was an awesome idea and closed the gap between the young people and the homeless dude. When in doubt; seek a compassionate solution.
AID to MENTOR NAVIGATION Part 32
I once asked the homeless man what his birth date was. I noted it in my phone and put aside a birthday cake for him. On his birthday he didn't show up so I went looking for him. I drove around the area of the West Side of Buffalo where he was known to frequent and I couldn't find him. Several weeks later he showed up with his usual gruff demeanor. The birthday cake changed the homeless man in the blink of an eye.
I asked him where he had been and after some small talk, told him about the cake. I let him know that I had been looking for him on his birthday. He brightened up like a mountain sunrise. You might think I'm a fruitcake but I swear I thought I saw his chest puff up, his shoulders raise and his ears twinkle. He said: "You have a cake for me?" He paused as if to collect his thoughts from some place that only he knew about. In the blink of an eye, his gruffness was gone and then he began offering to help us. "Do you need any help? Can I take the garbage out?" An act of compassion had once again altered a human life. He left that day feeling valued. The funny thing about compassion is how it affects your nose. You don't smell anything offensive when you are pouring out compassion.
We didn't see our friend for almost a year until last night. I smiled as he came in and gave him a hug. I cooked him a bowl of chili. He asked if I could help him put a roof over his head for the night. I said I would do my best. He finished his chili with a cup of juice and we cleaned up and left the Youth Center.
I had left my phone at home so we could not call anybody. We climbed into my van and headed to the Salvation Army. We prayed in the parking lot and asked God to provide a roof for my friend either here or somewhere else. A very nice lady explained to us that single men were not permitted to stay at their facility. She then volunteered to call some area shelters to find him a place to stay.
The Buffalo City Mission was full for the night. She found another place called the Little Portion Friary. There were 2 ladies who bent over backwards to help my friend. He didn't have any ID and that presented a problem. They asked if I could come back tomorrow and help him begin the process of obtaining an ID through the DMV. I agreed and told my friend that I would pick him up at 9am the next morning. He then disappeared, following a man down a hallway.
This morning at exactly 9am, I pulled up in front of the Friary. The lady inside said he left about 10 minutes ago. She was worried about my friend: she said he looked very sad. I left and drove around the downtown area trying to find him. I stopped in a McDonald's and a Burger King, I never found him. Now I feel sad.
Before I dropped my friend off last night, we talked about taking a step. "We can get you help but you have to want to get on your feet." I told him. He has to create his own space of responsibility and accountability. He has to take a step into a plan for his life. I feel bad that I can't find him this morning. I hope and pray that I will see him again. He taught me a lot about giving people space to grow.