Thoughts from a Volunteer Mentor

Allowing Yourself to be Vulnerable Creates Opportunities

By Andrew Haley, a mentor in Acts4Youth’s Pathways program. Andrew says he, “lives to create and drives to inspire through his passion of helping others.” He has been involved with many service organizations, including City Year, International Rescue Committee, and Alternative Breaks. When Andrew isn’t serving, he leads creative direction for a variety of clients and enjoys photography. 

Life is about connections

Every day we have the ability to create new opportunities through the people we meet. For me, my passion is helping others whether through direct service or startups.  I was introduced to Acts4Youth through my local church and connected deeply with the mission.

 I remember meeting the three young men I was going to be working with, and it all began with being vulnerable about who I was, my experiences, and why I cared about being in the same room as them. Allowing myself to be vulnerable and open to hearing their stories, struggles, and passions has allowed a foundation to be created that is only growing stronger with time.

The program I mentor in, Pathways, is designed to give inner city high school students the ability to gain leadership skills in life and faith through mentoring and support. Each Saturday brings about a different lesson that encourages the young men and women to develop skills and an understanding of leadership traits that they can spread throughout their communities.

Enjoy each conversation:

Connecting with the students on a personal level takes time and trust. Through conversation, commitment, and honesty I have been able to connect on a deeper level with the boys I mentor.

I work primarily with three young men (Eleazar, Elijah, and Tyleek). All three come from different backgrounds, but have an energetic drive to create opportunity for themselves.  While life has its ups and downs, I focus on providing the group ways to focus on the positive from difficult situations.  Something I have been able to do – and will continue to do – is allowing the boys to know their individual worth by focusing and finding their passions.  I believe it is vital to not get bogged down by society or the environment we may be in.  By focusing on your strengths and passions, you can create opportunity for not only yourself, but the community and people around you.

Acts 4 Youth creates an environment where the youth can express themselves in many ways personally, and allows the ability to focus on leadership skills that creates a foundation of strength, hope, and success in themselves and their community.

Creating opportunity takes time and creativity:

Every day is lived differently when you think about the people around you.  One of the highlights on Saturdays is gathering in our small groups and sharing highs and lows of the week.  Simply allowing the conversation to unfold and listening intently to each other encourages respect and understanding of what is happening in our lives.

While there are many activities that we do with the youth, something that I think is important is changing up the environment and surroundings around you.  With this in mind, I took some of the kids in the program to a local park where we were able to hike, check out some animals, and enjoy nature. For me, nature is a getaway from the stresses of the world, and I thought that this would allow the youth to get out of their routine and appreciate something different.  It was amazing to see the excitement and energy they had and the gratefulness they showed.

Opportunity is a big word.  Sometimes the little things in life are a huge opportunity for others.  Acts 4 Youth creates opportunity in many ways for the young men and women as well as the community.  Being a mentor for the three young men as well other youth in the program has been a true blessing. I have been able to learn and grow in ways I wouldn’t have thought otherwise. It is amazing to see how life can be lived when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to others and the community.