‘Get off the wall and make things happen’
Otis Nolan did not think he was doing anything extraordinary when he signed up to become a Mirrors volunteer.
So it came as a shock when the charity presented him with its Outstanding Committed Partner Award.
The City of Hamilton employee never missed a meeting with either of his two mentees and went the extra mile to offer support and guidance.
“The programme really taught me a lot about having patience,” Mr Nolan said.
“When the two young gentlemen I mentored didn't want to make the time schedule as we had planned, or when they had other things to do which they felt were more important than the goals they set for themselves, I had to be patient with them and in the end it all worked out.
“They managed to achieve some of their goals and others they are still working on. So it was a success for both them and myself.”
Like many of the young participants, Mr Nolan's mentees were looking to improve their grades in school and to have better family relationships.
He started noticing positive changes after the first four weeks.
“When I first met them, if I had a conversation with them it was one-word answers,” Mr Nolan said. “It grew to where we could have some good conversations.
“Now they actually pick up the phone and call me when I don't suspect it and ask me about my weekend and I do the same.
“I have a good connection with them and I hope it will keep going.”
Mr Nolan is now a staunch advocate for the programme. He wishes something similar was around when he was growing up.
“It would have benefited me back then,” he said. “I had goals set when I was younger, but I didn't have a clear guide or path for someone to help me out. I was in between things and had to figure a lot of things out as I got older.
“The Mirrors programme has so much to offer young people if they actually buy into it and are willing to put their all into it.”
Mr Nolan found out about the scheme during a presentation at his job. He took it as a “personal challenge” to get involved and make a positive impact.
“I really wanted to help a young person to achieve their goals, but the thing is, it was helping me with my development as well,” he said. “It's not so much about reacting to things, but always listening to people and what they have to say. It's been challenging and rewarding at the same time.”
The programme has showed him how much young people have to offer.
“My advice to other adults would be to stop complaining, get off the wall and make things happen,” he said.
“A lot of the adults sit on a wall and make judgments and complain about the youngsters not doing this or that, but instead of complaining they should get up there and help out.”
• Mirrors is recruiting for volunteers. For more information visit www.mirrors.bm.