by Kailey Buxbaum ’17
Its three in the afternoon and I am on my way to the George J Mitchell Elementary school, about three miles down the hill from Colby’s campus. The drive is short but walking through the large, purple painted doors of the school is stepping into another world. Every child, kindergartners to second graders, will do one of two things. They will either stare at you, squinting their eyes trying to figure out why such a big and mysteriously old college student is walking through their hallways or they will wave, shout, smile ask if you are there for them, to be their mentor. A mentor is somewhat of a celebrity walking through the hallways of an elementary school, everybody wants to hold your hand, to be your friend, to talk to you. And it’s true, every kid wants a mentor, and why wouldn’t they? Kids who have mentors have an older and thus inevitably cool friend to play, read, laugh and learn with. The Colby Cares About Kids program stands by its name, deeply and whole-heartedly invested in the lives of elementary, middle and high school-aged kids, and not just in Waterville. Colby students’ influences can reach as far as Clinton and Vassalboro, about twenty minutes away from Colby. CCAK mentors dedicate their Colby careers to kids, to someone who will look up to them for four years and beyond.
Although most Colby students will leave Waterville after graduation and the possibility of keeping in touch with a second grader seems relatively impossible, the influence of each mentor, no matter how much time was spent with his or her mentee, will leave a lasting positive impression. For the lucky ones, keeping in touch is a natural progression of the bond that has formed over four years.
Jonah Waxman came to Colby in 2001 from California. Interested in sports and helping others, he immediately interviewed with CCAK in September of his freshman year. Previous experience helping his younger sister and volunteering at his temple made CCAK a natural fit and he was matched to Jacob Doolan, living in Waterville and attending George J. Mitchell. As it turns out, Jacob has a twin brother, Josh and when Josh’s mentor didn’t work out Jonah, without a second thought took on both Doolan brothers. The next four years and countless lake excursions and baseball games later, a lasting bond was formed.
Recently, at the Alfond Youth Center’s 2015 Annual Appeal Awards Dinner, the Doolan boys shared their mentoring experience, highlighting some of their favorite memories they had with Jonah. Upon hearing this, Jonah was moved by the compassion the boys had for him and their time together. Although he regrets their infrequent contact nowadays, as Jonah has a family of his own and full-time job and the Doolan twins both student-athletes at Maine Maritime Academy, he says both email and social media have been helpful in catching up on each other’s lives: “We have been using Facebook and email and I always try to see the twins when I am back in Maine. It has been amazing to watch both of them accomplish so much, on the football field, in the classroom and in their personal lives. If being their mentor had a positive influence in their lives in even the smallest way, then I am incredibly honored and proud.”
When asked about his overall experience as a CCAK mentor, Jonah says it was one of the best decisions he ever made at Colby and has changed his life for the better in so many ways. In his own words: “Jake and Josh have had a huge influence on my life. I think it’s a cycle – I know I’m a better father to my 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter than I would have been without the mentoring experience. In my professional career I have actively continued to seek out mentors for myself and make every effort to be a mentor to others. I would expect the boys are probably better brothers, not only to each other, but to their youngest brother as well from the experience we shared in CCAK.”
Like Jonah, so many mentors benefit from time spent with their mentee, without the thought of how it will affect their lives down the road. CCAK is truly a once in a lifetime experience that can change lives, teaching college kids and kindergartners alike that there is more to learn from each other than meets the eye.