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Acts of kindness: Mentee blossoms into confident young woman

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Acts of kindness: Mentee blossoms into confident young woman

When I texted 18-year-old Caitlin and asked if she would share her thoughts about Saratoga Mentoring
Acts of kindness: Mentee blossoms into confident young woman
Caitlin, on right, joined Saratoga Mentoring when she was 7. Last summer, when she was 17, she bought her first car, a 2001 Cadillac DeVille, and posed for a picture with her mentor, Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland.

When I texted 18-year-old Caitlin and asked if she would share her thoughts about Saratoga Mentoring, an email arrived after 10 minutes.

“I’ve been in the Saratoga Mentoring program for quite a while. Eleven years to be exact. My mom signed me up because she thought it would be good to have someone around when she couldn’t be. Someone I could look up to, to ask for help with everyday challenges.”

Caitlin and I have been hanging out for about five years, since she was in middle school. But I’ve known her since she was an extremely shy 6-year-old Brownie and I was her Girl Scout leader. When I retired from Girl Scouting, I decided to be her mentor.

We go to the movies, we swim at Moreau Lake State Park. We’ve decorated my Christmas tree, made millions of cookies and a few apple pies. Once we made Julia Child’s French crepes and filled them with Nutella.

Over the years, despite many challenges, I’ve watched Caitlin grow into a smart young woman who has big dreams for her life.

I believe in her and I am proud of her.

When she was 15, Caitlin got a job at Dunkin Donuts. To get to work, she took a bus and walked through rain and snow to catch it.

She saved her money and, when she was 16, she hired a driving teacher and passed the road test on her first try.

When she was 17, Caitlin used her savings to buy her first car. The day she turned 18, she signed up for car insurance all by herself.

I won’t write any more because my friend is a teenager and I don’t want to embarrass her, but you get the idea.

And now it’s my turn to be embarrassed.

In her email, Caitlin wrote about her first two mentors, who helped her during elementary school.

“Then finally I matched with my old Girl Scout leader,” she writes. “We got along so well and she’s helped me through so much. Without her I’d be lost.”

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