Michaely “Mike” Wieland is one of those bubbly people you can’t help but love. She came to a Volunteers In Protective Service’s (VIP) training program in January, 2001. There were over 20 people in the training. Wieland made over 20 friends by the time the six-week training session ended!
Wieland and her 11 year-old mentee “Z” were matched in May of that year. They are as different as two people could be as far as age, race and socio-economic status is concerned, but where it matters they connected. Z hasn’t had an easy life. She’s been bounced around from foster home to foster home, making connections and then having those connections taken away from her. Wieland has been the stabilizing force in this little girl’s life since the day they met. Wieland is always there for Z; that is never in question.
Wieland has advocated for Z from day one, obtaining permission from foster parents to act as Z’s educational liaison, making sure she has the necessary medical and psychological evaluations, exposing Z to new and wonderful experiences, including sailing and going to places ranging from museums to garage sales and flea markets! She has taught Z the importance of doing homework and even made a connection for Z to have a pen pal from another state.
Wieland has incredible insight into Z and the dynamics of Z’s life, and she has always maintained and respected her boundaries in her relationship with Z. She is a caring, dedicated mentor, with unqualified integrity. She gives the word mentor meaning. She has shown Z that life can work if you pick up the tools to make it work, and she has helped Z identify her own incredible strengths. She has encouraged Z to follow her dream of being one of the first black astronauts and even helped her submit an application to space camp! Wieland and Z have become like two peas in a pod. They have taught each other and they’ve both grown incredibly from this experience.