From the outside it doesn’t seem like Matt Ediger and his mentee Sage have much in common.
Over spaghetti dinner one night Sage talked about his favourite video game, Fortnite, whereas Ediger is more likely to be talking about a hunting trip or a hike.
But that is kind of the point of the Community Connections Mentorship Program–the two learn from each other.
Kelly Silzer, the coordinator for the mentorship program said that she matches adults with youth in the community. They can be anyone from the shy kid who doesn’t talk much to the youth in foster care who needs extra attention.
“I feel like every single child could have a formal mentoring relationship, I would have loved one,” she said.
Eidger and Sage, who’s last name is being with held for privacy, were matched in January. Since then they have been skidooing, skiing, swimming and even on an overnight back packing trip together, often with Ediger’s son Timber in tow.
“These two are literally like brothers now,” Ediger said.
However he is working on a balance of having all three of them hang out as well as hanging out just him and Sage.
As Silzer explains it, a mentor is the kids own person. They have to share parents and teachers but the mentor is all theirs.
“The hope is that there would be a healthy relationship that develops out of it,” she said.
In Ediger and Sage’s case, one week Ediger picks an activity and the next Sage picks an activity.
“It’s fun taking him out and doing stuff that he’s never done before,” Ediger said.
To become a mentor you have to complete a series of interview with Silzer as well as provide a criminal record check. She said it is quite the process, but it weeds out the people who aren’t committed.
So far she has had two mentors wander off and lose contact without saying goodbye, she said that can be really damaging for the kids, however, a year long commitment is no longer necessary, as long as everything is clear from the beginning.
For Ediger is was a chance to give back to the community and potentially direct a kid away from trouble.
“I’m from Grande Prairie and it was a huge problem up there with just going off the rails,” he said. “If you don’t have that person to look up to you just find any attention you can and it usually not good attention.”
Though there was that greater purpose in mind, at the end of the day it is just fun.
“We are going to know these kids more as adults than children,” he said. “It’s a good thing to just soak up the time you have. I can be selfish when I’m old.”
Silzer is looking for more mentors. If you have some time once a week or so to hang out with a kid, this could be the volunteer position for you! To get in touch with Silzer email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-837-2920.
If you don’t think you have the time Silzer is also looking for sponsorship in the community to give her mentor/mentee pairs access to activities as Community Connections does not have a budget to support them.
“Even a hot chocolate every once in awhile can add up!” she said.