Being an Imagine LA mentor takes an investment of time and energy, and everything is organized to make your time count.  You have to be willing to [make the time] commitment.  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 made the commitment, and my fears faded as I realized that there was SO MUCH I could offer."

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 lit 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.