In My Own Words: Mark Denton

Being an Imagine LA mentor takes an investment of time and energy, but everything is organized to make your time count.  You have to be willing to sign on up for two years - that's a big commitment.  But during those months the time required isn't burdensome - you commit to a 20-minute weekly check-in call with your team and family team manager, a weekly check-in by text our phone with your mentee, and a personal interaction with your mentee at least every other week - twice a month.  These simple interactions don't take tons of time, but they can make all the difference in the life of a kid, or a student, or a single parent.  I've seen it.

I'll admit, there were times when I headed to a meeting with a family a bit reluctant, or even slightly resentful about my time; but I never came HOME feeling that way - coming home I was always moved, and grateful, and even energized.  Why? Because of 5-year-old Laila’s delightful giggles of anticipation on the way to her first swimming lesson; because of Yulany proudly showing me her semester grades—now a sophomore, she’s first in her class at Crenshaw High; because of 6-year-old Jeremiah, who desperately needed glasses, getting his first pair. When he put them on a surprised smile lighted up his face, and he cried out, “Everything looks closer!”

Let me be clear. When I first signed up as a volunteer, I had no idea what was in store, and frankly I wasn’t sure I had anything to offer. I’ve never been a parent, I’ve never been homeless—what could I bring to the table? How could I relate?

But I went ahead, I made the commitment, and my fears faded as I realized that there was SO MUCH I could offer. There is so much any one of us could offer one of these families.
 
Mark Denton
Mentor since 2011