January 19

I Stand By, Stand By Me.

There are over 20 students right now who have been wait-listed.

Hill country children, boys and girls of various ages, have reached out, signed up and said, “I’d like to have a mentor.”

The thing that amazes me about that, besides how totally doable that number is in this kind of community, but also that these kids have the discernment and wisdom to recognize their own needs.

Something is missing.

It may be a single-parent situation where there is more to do than hours in a day. It may be a child being raised by grandparents only, but there is a growing gap that needs to be filled.

I began mentoring because my dogs got tired of hearing me whine about missing my own girls. I could tell by the way they walked to another room when I called their name. Or maybe Mr. Riley just didn’t want to wear his ivy league patterned sweater. I’m not sure.

The newly emptied nest and barren refrigerator left me looking for a place to give back and someone to spend time with. I needed a park or bookstore buddy and a person who enjoyed baking dog treats and cupcakes the way I do.

Through Elizabeth Nolen of Boerne ISD, I was connected to Kylie. We wanted to spend time together outside of school, so she recommended the incredible Stand by Me program that connects adults with children who have asked for a mentor through the Hill Country Daily Bread outreach efforts.

This fun, easy-going, volunteer activity doesn’t take as much as it gives back in many unexpected ways. On Thursdays, I spend an hour eating lunch at the school because I still crave Sloppy Joes served on plastic separated compartment trays, and I can’t get enough canned chocolate pudding with whip cream.

Also, it’s a mid-week break for us to catch up on what’s new, what’s hot and what’s not. Last week we practiced the lost art of writing thank you notes with sticky chicken barbecue fingers.

Kylie is an excellent student and has been helping out by critiquing and reading my children’s writing projects. She is unafraid to offer suggestions and I like that about her. We also both have unreasonable escalator issues and successfully rode the ones at Barnes and Noble after selecting a perfect 5th-grade girl book.

Then we went to Olive Garden because she rocked her report card, and, well, because, pasta. And endless salad. That was a big day.

Simple is just as sweet.

We get together and bake, make a craft or color and talk. Last week she showed me her show goat that raked in some pretty big dollars at the Kendall County Stock Show. I’m all about show goats and pigtails.

Last night, at the Stand By Me volunteer appreciation dinner, I almost cried.

For starters, I thought the gravy was a creamy balsamic and drenched my salad in it. Secondly, they shared an audible recording of the kids and families talking about how much the mentoring program has meant to them.

As Ben E. King sings, sometimes the moon is the only light we see. 

It just takes a few minutes a week to make a huge difference to a local kid and our community. What skills do you have? What passions can you teach? How can we show up and share our faith with people who are signing up and asking for someone to step in? People need to know we care.

One of the case managers shared a story about someone who had been on the list for a long, long time. She overheard her ask another woman, “Don’t they like us?”

I could hardly stay seated. I wanted to jump up and say, “Who? Who is this? Let me knock on her door right now and tell her we don’t like her. We love her!”

She is valued. She is important. She is special and I will stand by her. Right here, right now. I can do more.

So many times we get caught up looking in, instead of out. We are grown adults, but do we ever feel bored? Yesterday I read a children’s book called, I’m Bored.

Bored. Boring. Bored. The child talks to a potato. It’s hilarious.

Outside our comfort zones, and couches and late night t.v., life is happening and someone needs a friend they can lean on.

Somewhere in Boerne, there is a child who doesn’t want to be on the waiting list. They want to learn how to fish.