Over the course of my life numerous people have taken the time to invest in me. Teachers, camp counselors, babysitters and neighbors blessed me in multiple ways as I was growing up. I took it for granted that all kids have people in their life to encourage and mentor them. When I was a freshman at Vestavia Hills High School, I learned about a wonderful program called Youth Leadership. Through this program, students are provided with leadership and community service opportunities to help them develop the skills needed to be an active member of their school and their community. As a member of Youth Leadership, I have had the opportunity to be a mentor to an elementary school student. Often these are students who have experienced life struggles at an early age that could benefit from a positive role model in their life. One day each week, I travel to the elementary school and spend time with my “rebel buddy.” I came to look forward to these Wednesday visits each week and often found myself wondering about my “rebel buddy” throughout the week. I found myself pondering ways to connect and I felt such joy when he remembered my name each week and said he had been looking forward to my visit. On one of my visits, my “rebel buddy” told me he had received a huge bag of dice for his birthday. He was so thrilled with this gift that admittedly seemed not that exciting to me. At our visit the following week, he brought several of his favorite dice from his new collection. He reached out and gave me one of the die. As I held it in my hand, he said it was our friendship die and he wanted me to keep it. I still have that die in my coat pocket and remember him each time I put on my coat. It was such a simple gesture but I knew how much his dice collection meant to him and was so honored he wanted to share it with me. I must confess that when I initially decided to be a part of this program, I did it with the intention of blessing a child. While I certainly hope and pray I have been a blessing to the students I was matched with the last two years, I am convinced that the biggest blessing was mine and I have a friendship die to always remind me.
Scholarship Finalist: Virginia Balogh
March 23, 2022