Joyce and Kaitlyn became mentor and mentee about a year ago when they joined the MODEL mentoring program. Now, they consider each other family.

The mentoring program connects kids with mentors. During their mentoring relationship, positive adult role models help youth build self-esteem, teach the importance of respecting authority and empower them to achieve educational goals. MODEL stands for “Mentors Opening Doors Enriching Lives”.

Joyce decided to join the program because she doesn’t have any children and she’s always wanted to help.  Kaitlyn is her mentee and they do tons of fun activities together. They have volunteered for Wreaths Across America, took a painting class, and visited a museum.

“Being a mentor makes me feel like a kid again because I can do fun things with Kaitlyn that I probably would not have done on my own,” said Joyce.

Like Joyce, Kaitlyn enjoys having someone outside of daily life to talk to and hang out with. She loves the time they spend together and said Joyce has helped her in many ways. Through their mentoring journey, Joyce has seen a change in Kaitlyn. She went from a shy girl who gave short answers to a friend she can have conversations with.

“It’s almost like we’re family now,” said Joyce. “I don’t feel any shyness or hesitation to communicate.”

Kaitlyn also considers Joyce her family and is happy they’ve gotten to know each other and proud that Joyce looks at her so highly.

“I can’t take any credit for this, but she’s a wonderful young lady,” said Joyce. “I keep saying if I had a daughter I would like her to be just like Kaitlyn.”

Out of all of their wonderful memories together, one sticks out to Joyce the most. Kaitlyn and her family joined her for an Easter egg hunt at her church. Kaitlyn was walking around with her baby niece helping her pick up the eggs and chatting with everyone. Joyce says she was proud of the way she interacted and how she handled herself. Joyce had been going to that church for a long time and this was the first time she attended that event and it was all because of Kaitlyn. That memory is something Joyce will cherish for years to come.

“I’m proud to be a part of her life and hope to be a part of her life forever,” said Joyce. “I think we’ll still be friends even after the mentor program.”