In celebration of our mentors, Mentor Appreciation Night will take place on November 1, 2019. Partners for Youth with Disabilities presents the 2019 Mentor of the Year award to Amy Patterson,who has been a mentor for three years. She has been matched with Tom Geraci for the past two and a half years.
Working for Boston Children’s Hospital, Amy Patterson found PYD while looking online for opportunities similar to the volunteering and advocacy work that she had done in college. We offered exactly what she wanted: a one-on-one mentorship program.
Amy and Tom found that they share an interest in cooking and baking. They bonded over their love for food, and Amy says Tom is a creative cook. “We have some good laughs and end up with some really good food.” They make sure to get together for birthdays and holidays as well.
They both agree that despite starting their mentorship under the framework of PYD’s program, it has since developed into a support system as friends and colleagues, which is more than either of them initially expected it to be. Today, they call each other to share any exciting news or to talk through difficult times. Amy even called Tom when she was accepted into graduate school, and Tom was really excited to hear it. Tom shares his excitement about transferring schools and meeting new people.
“Our relationship has now just become this really natural support system and close friendship that I almost don’t see it as a formal mentor-mentee-ship anymore,” Amy said.
When PYD contacted Amy about receiving the award a couple weeks ago, Amy’s first thought was to show Tom how far they have come. They have both been open, honest, communicative, and committed to growing together.
“In a way, I think it’s not really me winning the award, it’s our relationship winning the award. I hope Tom gets recognized for this as well because it’s just as much him as it is me,” said Amy.
For anyone considering being a mentor, Amy recommends opening yourself up to being vulnerable and ready to grow from that experience. It is important to set aside any expectations you might have; this way you can better interact with people who have a very different lived experience from yours. It might be uncomfortable at first, but you learn and move forward. In doing so, you are able to gain a lot from being a mentor.
“It’s been a good two and a half years that Tom and I have been together and it’s been a wild experience,” said Amy.
You can watch Amy speak about her experience as a mentor and her reaction to receiving her award here.
If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer mentor with us at PYD, you can learn more about our program here.
This post was written by Carey Lin of the BU PR Lab.