In many communities across our country there are special things that distinguish each city and neighborhood. Special donors, best practices, community volunteers and church groups make the various communities who and what they are. Silent Mentors are a special component of Billings, Montana. These are the people who mentor because they have something to give in return for what they have been given in their lives. They do not serve to gain recognition or fame; these are the people you do not hear about but the people who make differences day in and day out.
Many of the Silent Mentors partner with Friendship House. David Solem is one of the mentors there. He initially presented himself to the Friendship House as an intern about three years ago. Solem successfully completed his internship and was prepared to move on; however, he found it hard to forget the children with whom he had formed bonds.
Solem continued to come back to the facility to mentor the children. He comes on time and has a dedicated schedule so the children are not let down. Solem realizes how much a difference a positive adult can make in the life of a troubled child, so he chooses to spend his free time at the center. He is selfless and even made a special goal to learn to love one of the most difficult young men at the House because Solem knew he just needed attention.
Solem is understanding and is aware of the struggles the children go through. This particular client had a very traumatic start in life. His mom gave him away at birth, and his father was and is presently spending time in a correctional facility. Growing up, this young man felt unloved and broken. He thought he was not good enough to have a mother and a father. This young man, like other neglected children, just wanted to be loved. He needed to know that someone knew he existed and cared.
Solem became a beacon of hope in this child’s eyes. He was dedicated to getting to know him and merely listening. Solem learned his needs, fears and dreams. His interaction with this young man went far beyond a mentor; they became friends and Solem was able to share their common thread of a “missing father.” This youth now has a friend, someone who has made a commitment to love him for who he is. Solem’s dedication has provided this young man a new level of trust that was previously non-existent. When he has problems or is misunderstood, he knows he can call on his big brother David.
Solem earned this young man’s respect. The impact his has made in his life has taught him values. The youth has learned to trust others to help him. He also does not lash out in anger as he used to, and he realizes he has a future.
This relationship benefited Solem also. He learned about the young man’s world. He saw through his eyes, daily hurt and pain as a result of the environment he was a part on. Solem learned more about working with youth who had challenges on their level so they would not feel as if they were being patronized or belittled.