Josiah Loll has been a mentor in the UMC Mentoring and Caring Program for the past two years. About the time his original mentee moved to Wisconsin, there was a request for a mentor for a severely autistic, completely non-verbal, 12-year-old boy. Obviously, this needed to be a thoughtfully chosen match, and Josiah was asked if he was up for the challenge. The first three weeks were difficult, and when Josiah returned to me asking for another mentee, I assumed that the situation simply was too difficult. However, Josiah wasn’t asking for a different child, he was asking for another child. Josiah was matched with a 16-year-old boy. He meets weekly with each of them. He really does understand that the needs of each of these boys are very different, and he adjusts his relationship with them to fit their needs. During Josiah’s freshman year, he worked as an America Reads Tutor in a kindergarten classroom at Washington Elementary School and assisted third and fifth graders with their homework at Cathedral School. After he ran out of work study funds, he continued to tutor on a volunteer basis. Last year, after completing his work study hours with another department on campus, he returned to the America Reads program and asked if he could volunteer as an America Reads tutor again. He currently is working with first graders as a reading coach at Washington Elementary School.
Josiah’s interest doesn’t end with tutoring and mentoring children though. A group of students, including Josiah, who already volunteer many hours through their club involvement, began working with senior citizens at the Villa St. Vincent, an assisted living facility in town. Since the beginning of the year, each week the group meets for about an hour and a half with residents of the Villa to assist them with their newsletter, play cards or games, or just visit with them. Josiah has formed many relationships with many of the residents at the Villa and visits them on his own between the regularly scheduled weekly visits.
Josiah played a leading role in the Crookston Community Theater presentation of “Dearly Departed” on the Kiehle Auditorium stage. This was a wonderful project in which the community theater and the UMC Theater Department collaborated on a very successful production; it would not have been possible without this partnership because the cast requirements called for several college age students as well as several older adults. Josiah displayed an unusual ability to work well with older adults in the community theater while playing his part very well. Members of the community theater commented on his reliability and talent.