TMC impacts local community through mentoring ministry
by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)—Twelve-year-old Lucy sits at the lunchroom table, waiting for her friend to arrive. Lately, Lucy's grades have improved, she is more alert in class, and her teachers have noticed an increase in her self-esteem.
So, Lucy waits, sipping on red punch with a slice of cheese pizza on her tray. In a few minutes, she looks up and sees someone walk into the lunch room. Lucy smiles as she recognizes her friend and mentor, Karen, who just left her morning college class.
In connection with the White County Mentoring Program (WCMP), about a dozen Truett-McConnell College students establish such relationships with White County elementary and middle school kids by helping them with homework, and by walking alongside of them, listening, encouraging, and assisting them, said Keith Wade, TMC campus minister.
"It's a sacrifice for college students just to give up 30 minutes to an hour of their day just to go sit and listen, just to be an encouragement and love on them," said Wade of TMC students.
For Truett-McConnell student Kayla Meador, mentoring is a privilege, and she thinks it is "very much needed and should be available."
"I just wanted to help," said Meador, who mentors a fifth-grader.
"Right now, we're just playing games and I just talk to her and ask her questions about how she's doing," Meador said. "It's been a slow process, but I think eventually she'll open up."
"I think it's beneficial to me and for other people that get the chance to mentor," said Meador, who added that every time she mentors, she leaves with "a positive attitude that [she] did something."
A sophomore at Truett-McConnell, Kristen Pruitt said it was a summer at a camp that inspired her to be a mentor.
"I started to get to know the younger girls, and I've already been where they are and if there's any way I can direct them in the right path and direct them toward Christ, then it would be awesome for me to glorify Christ by pouring into others what he's done in my life," Pruitt said.
In this media manic culture that portrays women as sexual objects, Pruitt said she worries about its effects on young women today.
"Just having someone that's on the outside to direct you and be a role model," Pruitt said, "I'm sure it's just really encouraging because they can find confidence in you."
A mentor since August, Pruitt said she has formed a good relationship with her mentee, who is in foster care. She is able to observe how her mentee "takes on being in a new place and a new family," said Pruitt, who utilizes biblical truth to combat her mentee's negative thoughts.
When asked by her mentee and her young friends why she is always happy, Pruitt was glad to share that she derives her joy from the Lord.
"It's cool because they ask me for advice, and they know I go to church, so they ask things about God; so having the opportunity to pour into girls and give them biblical truth is really cool," Pruitt said. "And it's also encouraging for me too. I'm pouring into the girls, but they don't understand how it is a true joy for me."
Coincidentally, Pruitt and her mentee attend the same church. And as a mentor, Pruitt said she is glad the Lord "put her in my life twice" so "I can check on her through the weekends and during the week."
Pruitt is encouraging her peers to mentor because of overwhelming dropout rates and "students setting themselves up to go in the wrong direction."
"Our hearts are for the Lord, for the lost, and for the young ones," Pruitt said. "I just tell people they should mentor and pour the love of Christ in the students. Honestly, if the mentor's heart is for the Lord, they're going to love it."
Pruitt's peer, Chris Chapman, is a new mentor and was excited to meet his fifth grade mentee.
"I have a heart for kids, and I know that the only reason I'm here today is because of people that mentored me, and I want to be the same for them," Chapman said.
Chapman, who plans to be a children's pastor, said "we as Christians should never miss the opportunity to mentor someone. We should always be actively involved in someone else's life."
As for meeting his mentee, Chapman said, "It was very easy. I took him to the library and we played some board games. We talked a little bit and found out what he likes and who he is ... it was short, but it was a good first meeting."
"It just breaks my heart to see kids that don't have much and to see their spirit is so encouraging for me," said Chapman, who said his mentee comes from "a broken home."
Thankful for the mentors in his own life, Chapman said he is already encouraging mentoring to his peers, who may not know that the opportunity exists.
"It's a good testimony to other people on campus," said Chapman, who recounted a poster he saw at Mossy Creek Elementary School.
"I was standing there waiting, and I looked up and saw this sign that said, 'We love our mentors,' and all the kids had signed it," Chapman said. "They said that they have a lot of mentors, and it is really respected in that school. I asked the lady about the sign, and she said they have a lot of Truett-McConnell students that come in, and the kids just love to interact with them."
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.