Daren Anderson began mentoring in 1999 and has worked with several boys through the years. For more than nine years, he has been matched with Archer, who is set to graduate this May from Lincoln High School. Prior to practicing social distancing, Daren and Archer met every Thursday for lunch (Taco Bell and Hardee's are their favorite spots), and talk.
"This year I have really opened up even more," said Archer. "I talk to Daren about situations that are going on with school, relationships and everything else." When asked if he could tell his younger self any advice regarding having a mentor, Archer said he wished he would have opened up sooner. "In elementary school, we played games. In middle school we started to do more talking about school and classes and still some games. In high school we just talk. I like telling him about things in my life and I like to hear his stories about everything from owning a business to some of the trips that he takes."
Daren and Archer continue to communicate, like so many of us, relying on calls and texts while practicing social distancing. Archer is annoyed that he is not able to participate in prom, graduation, and all the other senior milestones, but says, “Things happen and you just have to go with it.” Most of all, he misses talking with friends and his weekly meeting with Daren.
Daren and Archer do look forward to staying in touch for years to come. In August, Archer is set to go to Marine boot camp in California. Archer invited Daren to his enlistment ceremony. Archer’s plans are to either be in a Marine Corps band (he is a talented clarinet player) or try to earn a scholarship. Archer says he has always been a patriotic person, which Daren has noticed. Daren says that has really ramped up in high school with Archer being involved in the ROTC program. "He has been an outstanding ROTC student for two years," Daren said.
It is clear that Daren is incredibly proud of Archer and has enjoyed being part of his life over the past nine years. Daren is a mentor who is consistent and truly enjoys the experience. He started mentoring another student this year in elementary school because he knows the need. "It's a totally different experience," said Daren. "Each student I have worked with has been unique and different, but it has been fun getting to know them all."
USucceed mentors have found multiple ways to stay connected to their students. Everything from mailing cards, providing gift cards for necessities if they know the student’s household has lost income, dropping off meals (while practicing social distancing), and arranging for computers/internet so students can maintain their studies. It is heartwarming to see the connections and families as a whole working together with their mentors! Learn more at https://www.lsssd.org/what-we-do/child-adolescent-services/mentoring/in….