Jerry Hawver has been a mentor to a boy at Alexander Children’s Center since January 2002. A retired professional with grown children and a wife in the social services field, Hawver wanted to devote some of his spare time to making a difference in a child’s life. Staff at Alexander Children’s Center truly feel that he has accomplished that goal during the past year.
Although the Children’s Center only require visits once per week, Hawver spends time with his mentee 2-3 days per week for 2-5 hours each time. A case manager commented, “Jerry has made such a difference in (child’s) life. (Child) really looks at Jerry as family. Jerry not only does fun things with (child), but also helps him with his reading and math skills.” He bought educational computer software to use that tool, among others, to tutor the child during some of their visits.
Hawver is extremely generous to his mentee, while supporting the staff’s behavior management guidelines–trying not to reward him with gifts at inappropriate times. He puts the needs of the child first. He has attended the child’s treatment reviews and understands and accepts the goals that the child is working on. One staff member said that Hawver has given the child “something to work toward (their off-campus visits.)” He has also learned unconditional love from Jerry when he realized that he would keep coming back to visit him even when his behavior was less than perfect.
The child has made great progress in his behaviors during the past year and has moved to a less restrictive living environment. Staff feel that this “relationship is very important to him and has affected him tremendously in a positive way.” In fact, the following is excerpted from a conversation that the child had with a therapist in a group session: Therapist – What are you getting out of you relationship with your volunteer? Child – He gives me a lot of things. Therapist – Besides things. . .what does he give you or what does the relationship give you? Child – Love. Therapist – What does that feel like? Child – Home.
Hawver has taken his outreach even further by joining the Client Rights & Ethics Committee, communicating gift-in-kind and volunteer needs at his church and enlisting his friends to donate holiday gifts for the children in his mentee’s residence. Hawver certainly demonstrates a sense of caring and responsibility, devotion to the child, teamwork with the staff and he consistently goes above and beyond all expectations we have for mentors at Alexander Children’s Center.