Empire State of Mind:Mentoring has had a positive impact on my life


Chris DeBack is a mentoring in the North Fayette Valley Mentoring Program. He has been matched with his mentee, Kywren, since January 2017. He and Kywren enjoy playing video games, going to dinner, seeing movies, and attending NFV Mentoring group activities together. The program is in need of more male mentors.Chris DeBack photo


Empire State of Mind: Mentoring has had a positive impact on my life



By Chris Deback





North Fayette Valley Mentoring is in need of more male mentors.

There are currently three boys waiting to be paired with a mentor, with the potential to add at least two more very soon. Mentoring a youth in our community is a lot of fun. In fact, I get just as much out of the experience as my mentee, Kywren, does. Being a mentor isn’t hard, and only involves, at the very least, four hours of your time per month. While four hours may not seem like a lot of time, it can have a big impact on a youth’s future. 

According to the The National Mentoring Partnership website www.mentoring.org, one in three youth will grow up without a mentor. Young adults who were at risk of falling off track but had a mentor were 55 percent more likely to enroll in college, 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly, 130 percent more likely to hold a leadership positions, and 90 percent end up interested in becoming mentors themselves. Also, students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class. 

Kywren and I were matched in January 2017. I’ll be the first to admit, the first time we did an activity together was a bit awkward for me, at least, in the beginning. However, it didn’t take long to get comfortable when we started playing video games. In fact, the first thing we did together was go back to my house and take on hordes of zombies in Call of Duty. We also made chicken alfredo from scratch that day. 

Video games have been Kywren’s and I’s connection. Anytime we don’t have a particular activity in mind when I pick him up, we just go back to my house and play my Xbox One for a couple of hours and stuff our faces with pizza, which always seems to put a smile on his face. It’s really that simple when it comes to having a positive impact.

While everyone knows I’m big into video games, Kywren and I don’t spend every minute together plopped on the couch in front of the TV. We enjoy going to the movies, going out to dinner, playing catch with the football, and taking my dog, Max, for a walk at the West Union Recreation Center, among other things. I also introduced him to Star Wars. It blew my mind that he hadn’t seen a single Star Wars movie before. With nine total movies within the Star Wars timeline, I am counting “Rogue One — A Star Wars Story,” because it fits in the Skywalker timeline, we have finished the first four and have five more to go. 

I particularly like the NFV Mentoring group activities that take place every other month. From a visit to Pike’s Peak State Park to a pool party at the West Union Aquatic Center, it is a great chance for Kywren to interact with other mentees. It also gives me an opportunity to talk with other mentors and share stories of our experiences. 

My favorite group activity was attending a Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball game this summer. While riding in a school bus down to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids was a little rough on my back, the experience of being at the game was one I’ll never forget. From rooting on the Kernels to Kywren and I eating way too much food it was a fun day in the sun, plus the Kernels won, which made it all the more exciting.  

Becoming a mentor has probably been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would encourage anyone to get involved and become a positive role model on a youth’s life. 



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