Meet our Mentor of the Year, Kate Crawford! We’ve known Kate for four years. Within that time, she has developed a phenomenal relationship with her mentee, Becky Haile. Kate is always reachable and helpful when the Mentor Match staff needs her.
Here is Kate and Becky’s story, and how the Mentor Match program has inspired and changed their lives.
Often times mentoring is more than changing a mentee’s life. Many mentors at PYD go above and beyond their mentor duties, creating a ripple effect that reaches far and wide in our community. In fact, many of our mentors are experiencing the huge impact that the Mentor Match program has had on them. This is exactly the case for Kate Crawford, a warmhearted mentor who conveys her passion of caring for others and making a difference.
“We were like a magnetic bond,” said Kate, when she described the connection between her and her mentee, Becky. This year, Kate and Becky are celebrating their fourth year anniversary as a mentor-mentee match at PYD. When looking back on the remarkable experience, Kate could not be happier for having the chance to witness Becky’s growth and progress.
The memory of their first meeting is still fresh in Kate’s mind. With the help of Steve Slowinski, PYD Mentor Match Specialist, Kate went over to Becky’s house and met Becky and her family. “I could tell she was a bit nervous, and I was too,” said Kate. “But overall, it felt like a natural experience.” It was not a formal occasion, but it was indeed a good start to get to know each other and establish their relationship.
Kate started to play a major role in Becky’s life, especially when it came to hanging out and having fun together. Bowling and cooking are two of their favorite things. Bowling is a fun interactive activity when the two are bonding, while cooking is a passion they share. Kate always tries to incorporate functional life skills into the activities they do together. “It is important to teach [youth] with disabilities some functional life skills when we’re having fun together,” said Kate. For example, Kate and Becky practice math skills when they are bowling by adding up their scores. And when they are cooking together, Kate teaches Becky skills like how to look for ingredients, how to measure them, and how to keep time.
Recently Kate and Becky visited Belkin Farm for apple picking and hiking. It was a long walk and they had a deep conversation. “It was kind of a special experience because she is growing right now through a transition period. When she’s age 22, she has to leave her school at the Cardinal Cushing Center, move on to her next study phase and be an adult. She opened up to me and said that she was a little bit nervous about making that change. So I told her I’ll always be here to support her.” Being one of Becky’s support systems, Kate was happy to see Becky turning to her for advice and help. “I think it’s because of our strong connection and comfort level with each other,” she said.
There is no question that Kate has played a major role in shaping Becky’s life; however, Kate makes it an important point to note how much Becky has shaped her life as well. Before Kate got involved in the mentor program at PYD, she worked in sales at an IT company. It was a role that she wasn’t happy in. “It (Kate’s mentoring experience) had a huge impact on me. It pushed me to change my career to work with students with disabilities. And that impact was so meaningful,” said Kate. After being involved in the Mentor Match Program and getting along with Becky, she realized there was something missing that she wanted to fulfill. She found her great passion for caring for those who need help and support. Now Kate has changed her career and is working on getting her Masters Degree in Education in Moderate Disabilities.
Kate finds the experience of being a mentor at PYD very rewarding and inspiring and she hopes more and more people will join in the big family of PYD’s Mentor Match program. “If you are feeling that there is something missing in your life, and you want to make a difference, I would strongly recommend that you look into this (program),” said Kate.“Because it has a strong impact on my life. There are so many things you can do with your mentee and it’s a relationship you can’t get anywhere else – learning about their culture, helping them in the school, and also building on their social, and emotional skills that really help them out for their entire life.”
A Fun Fact about Kate
“When I began high school, I used to DJ. Unfortunately, I don’t have a chance now. But I’m always looking for a chance to do that sometime. I really have a passion for music. I told Becky a little bit about this experience and she has a great passion for music, too!”
Are you a bowling fan like our mentor-mentee match Kate and Becky? Join PYD’s Bowling Party on Saturday, Nov. 14th in Malden, MA. Please visit our website and follow our Facebook and Twitter for more information.
This post written by Crystal Tianyin Xu, Graduate Student in the Public Relations Program at the Boston University College of Communication. She is one of PYD’s BU PR Lab Account Executives. (Edited by Nicole Malo, with the additional edit help of PYD Team Members.)