April 19, 2022

Refugee Youth Mentor Supports Mentee's Growth

In July of 2020, Tyler’s birthday present to himself was coming to Catholic Community Services’ office to sign up to volunteer as a Youth Mentor.  

After walking through background checks and the training process, Tyler was matched with Oscar*, a 13-year-old client in CCS’ Refugee Foster Care program. 

This is Tyler’s second year as Oscar’s Youth Mentor. Every month, the two spend eight to ten hours together.  

That time together looks different every time. For Tyler, it’s important to partake in activities together that Oscar has an interest in and that grows his confidence. 

“Whatever he’s interested in, I want to help support him.” Tyler said.  

They play basketball together, talk about school, and visit the library. They go to the movies, and play with Tyler’s dog, Frankie, at the park. The duo also tries new hobbies together.  

Oscar has an interest in learning to play the guitar, so Tyler found a virtual guitar instructor for him. Oscar had always wanted to try ice skating, so they went!  

The first time the pair went ice skating is one of Tyler’s favorite memories with Oscar.  

Upon arriving at the rink, Oscar was afraid to get on the ice. The two sat on the side gathering courage for about 45 minutes. 

At that point, a 14-year-old girl who had been skating around the rink stopped to ask Oscar’s name and ask if he wanted to skate around the rink with her. Oscar declined her offer. 

“She did that every time she went around the rink,” Tyler said. “The fourth time [Oscar] finally got up and started ice skating with her. Then for the next hour or two we skated, and he loves ice skating now.” 

Tyler holds this memory close for two reasons. 

“The reason why it’s my favorite story is because first of all, [Oscar] did something that felt scary.” Tyler said. “Second of all, I want to be like that 14-year-old girl—just aware. Am I aware or am I just always thinking about myself? That's why it’s my favorite memory, she’s an example to me.” 

We’re certain that Tyler has had an incredible impact on Oscar’s life. According to Tyler, their time together has also changed his life for the better. 

“I’m a better person because of Oliver and his foster family,” Tyler said. “I’m better because he appreciates every little thing. It’s changed my life in a way that I appreciate things more. I’m just grateful to be here in this moment, to be alive and able to do things.” 

Thank you, Tyler, for all that you do as a Youth Mentor! 

Click here to learn more about how you can become a Youth Mentor. 

*Name has been changed to respect the privacy of the client.