— from Sarah McKay —
Haley Winchell first heard about the Funhouse Mentor Program through word of mouth, and was immediately intrigued at the prospect of being a mentor. As she explained, “I’ve always wanted to volunteer in a program like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, but never was in one place long enough to commit.”
Before Haley was matched with her mentee, Angelina, who attends Salmonberry, Haley thought that mentoring might be hard. “I think I had this idea that I was doing it as a service for a kid, and that it would be a little taxing and time consuming on me, but I am pleasantly surprised that it’s not! It’s just as beneficial for me as it for Angelina.” Haley explains.
Angelina, 9, and Haley, 27, have been a Funhouse mentor match since November, 2015.
Angelina and Haley have a lot of fun together. Angelina says that hanging out with Haley is “more exciting” than with other adults. “I feel like I’m more free and I can have fun more, now that I have a mentor” she says.
The pair spend a lot of time exploring the island. “I want to get out more on the island now since I have someone to do it with, who also enjoys exploring and finding new adventures, as opposed to the same old stuff. Having Angelina in my life, I get more creative. It gets me out of my comfort zone,” says Haley.
But there is more to their relationship than going on adventures. The pair have formed a true friendship. “She says things that genuinely make me laugh and entertain me. We have good conversations!” says Haley, right after a giggle-filled story from Angelina about sliding on the ice.
According to Angelina, her friendship with Haley has helped her to not only have fun, but to become more confident herself: “I like that she (Haley) just expresses herself. I can feel free and not be afraid to ask things. With Haley, I can just ask it.”
As part of their mentor agreement through the Funhouse, they have committed to spend at least four hours a month together, doing an activity of their choosing. The next outing Angelina and Haley have planned is to attend open mic night at Doe Bay, where Angelina will sing and play ukulele. According to Haley, when Angelina performs she goes into “superstar mode.” Both Haley and Angelina look forward to spending more time together in the days and years to come.
This strong relationship shows how the Funhouse Mentor Program can be a rich and rewarding experience for both children and adults.
If you have questions about the Funhouse or the Mentor Program, contact Sarah McKay at 360.376.7177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.