by Abbie Powell
“There are so many tiny successes that turn into great ones,” says Cathie Tanner, the director of Holy Comforter Lutheran Church’s Kids Hope program.
Twelve years ago, Cathie began the journey of partnering with Kids Hope, an organization that equips church members to invest in one-on-one relationships with local students. More than anything, research shows that children thrive with the influence of a caring, committed adult. When a mentor steps into their lives, simply showing up time and time again, those growing trust bonds begin to have a dramatic impact on the student, both socially and academically.
After twelve years, Cathie is still passionate about reaching young students through relational investment. She plans to continue meeting once a week with a young mentee as long as she is able. She says, “It is just fun, and I see the kids’ growth.”
One young student initially sneered at Cathie’s attempt to read a “Hardy Boys” book with him. But each week, Cathie persisted in reading one chapter as part of their time together. By the end of the year, the little boy remarked that he would like to share the book with his grandmother! Cathie sees this as just one example of a tiny success that truly blossomed into a great one. Through her commitment and patient persistence, a young boy began to understand the excitement of reading. Moreover, their time together inspired him to share what he learned!
Would you like to invest in the social and academic success of a young student, but don’t know where to start? Do you wonder what you would even do for that one hour each week? The truth is, it is much more simple than you might think! Cathie says the key is just devoting your full attention to the student; let him or her lead the time. What interests your mentee? Perhaps the student enjoys playing card games or reading books. However you spend the time, the fact that you keep showing up – that you’re there for your student – speaks volumes to his or her heart.
Abbie is a senior in high school who enjoys following Jesus, going on adventures with her family and good friends, and working with kids. She believes church-school partnerships are a perfect opportunity to step into the lives of students and teachers the way Jesus steps into ours – humbly, sacrificially, and with commitment. Thank you for volunteering with us, Abbie – you are a talented writer and such a blessing!