Miles* walked into the nurse’s office at the behavioral school he attended. It was a walk and visit he made every day, and every day, he asked the same question. “Do you know anyone who would mentor me? I am 16, and I can’t figure this out on my own.”
The school nurse promised him the same thing she did each time he came to her; “I will make more calls, Miles. I’m trying.”
She made more calls, all ending with relatively the same answer – he’s too old, it’s too late to pair him with a mentor. Seven different organizations, all giving the same answer, and it left her she feeling defeated and convicted. She knew if a young man in an institution like this wanted a mentor, she needed to try to help him. An answer came later that evening during a mom’s group where Sarah Cox also attended.
“My wife, Sarah, listened patiently as she shared about her disappointment in not being able to help Miles find a mentor,” explained Chris Cox, Back2Back Cincinnati Director. “When the nurse finished her story, Sarah looked at her, handed her my number written on paper, and said, ‘Call my husband. He doesn’t say no.’”
The next day, an hour after Miles arrived in her office with the same question, she called Chris. Just a few days later, two Back2Back staff, Michael Sickles and Onice Gray, went to the school to meet and get to know Miles.
“He showed up to the meeting on time and immediately started sharing how things were at home,” explained Onice. Miles’ mom has medical needs which prohibit her from working, and Miles was desperate to map out how to attend school, take care of his mom, and help her be independent. He looked seriously at Michael and Onice and said, “If I move out at 18, she can get additional assistance, but I need help now to do that.”
It was clear from their first meeting, Miles was serious about having a mentor, and Onice didn’t hesitate to step into that role for him. Shortly after their first meeting, Onice went with Miles to meet his mom and ask how often he could meet with her son. They started meeting over food weekly, and then COVID-19 mandates were enforced. Onice reached out to them and asked what they needed, and how he could help.
Currently, any food gaps at Miles’ home are filled with the help of Back2Back Cincinnati. Once school was out, Miles realized he wasn’t going to be able to do online learning, as he didn’t have a computer. Onice helped him obtain a school approved laptop to continue his classes, and each week, when he delivers food to their home, they continue their mentor/mentee relationship – while practicing social distancing.
Miles and Onice continue to build their relationship, and Miles feels the support of his mentor in ways he’d always dreamed of. His connection with Onice and Back2Back Cincinnati is helping him own his own story now. He wants to be able to work when things open back up, and asked for approval to use his school laptop for job applications; he’s asking around about post high school education opportunities, and is seeking guidance on sustainable living situations for he and his mom. He has a personal development plan with the help of Onice and another Back2Back staff member, Stephanie Powers.
Together, Miles and Onice are having conversations, making plans, and looking to the future of what Miles can and will accomplish both for himself and his family. This is the power of the coaching/mentor program through Back2Back Cincinnati – helping teens and equipping them for their own successes, on their own terms. Please join us in prayer that Miles will continue to remain focused and open to learn as he paves the road toward his future.
*Names have been changed