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The Power of Mentorship – Cheryl and Lynn’s Story

Think back to a time in your life when you were at a fork in the road – a place where you were faced with a decision as to what path to take. When you remember this moment was there someone by your side for support? Did you have a mentor, counsellor or adviser?

For Cheryl, 34, and Lynn, 59, their mentorship turned friendship first began at the Mom and Mentor Program provided by the 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre and funded by United Way. Cheryl, a single parent of two turned to the centre for support after having her second child. Lynn, a retired career educator from the University of Victoria, was looking to give back to her community and always enjoyed coaching people during transition.

Within five minutes of meeting Cheryl and Lynn, you know there’s a genuine kinship and they have discovered a lot about themselves during this experience and have grown as individuals.

As part of the program, the two ladies set up goals to accomplish throughout the year-long ‘match’; both wished to challenge themselves and learn new skills. Throughout the process, Cheryl gained strategies to manage her depression, strengthen her parenting, enhance her life skills, build her self-esteem and create more meaningful relationships. Lynn found a community of inspiring women to belong to in her retirement.

Suffering from depression, Cheryl shares how it can be a struggle for her to get through the day. It affects her emotions, health and relationships. Coupled with the financial stress and family pressure of being a single parent it can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to Lynn’s task-oriented nature and mentorship, she has learned how to create habits and a routine to keep her moving forward.  Lynn is there to help ease the load or provide insight before things get overwhelming. “What is refreshing about Lynn is she practices what she preaches. She only gives advice to people if she has done it herself,” says Cheryl. “She allows people to be themselves and is there as a support.”

This role isn’t always easy for Lynn as she admits it is in her personality to want to quickly jump in to fix things. Similarly, Cheryl’s take charge personality is something she has wanted to work on. Knowing the value of give and take in any partnership, Cheryl says one of the biggest challenges she had with her spouse was she wasn’t able to sit back, let him lead and trust his judgement. Taking a back seat when it comes to learning new skills such as cooking with Lynn has taught Cheryl to release her sense of control. This valuable lesson is now being put into practice in different relationships and aspects of her life.

Growing up in a family of four children, Cheryl, the middle child, recalls her mom’s struggle with personal issues and not having a lot of spare time for her. Falling through the cracks, Cheryl was left to navigate through her childhood into adulthood with little guidance. She missed out on learning valuable life skills such as how to prepare a nutritious meal for children. Lynn’s strength in the kitchen has helped build Cheryl’s confidence in this area.

As a single parent, Cheryl says she often feels left behind, but she feels like a priority at the Mom and Mentor program. “The program is life-changing. It’s more than just a resource; it is a complete life support and since it supports single moms so well, it benefits children, too.”