By: Rebecca Svec
Mentor: Marty Stones
is a mentor with Crete Public Schools.
A young retiree when he moved to Crete, Marty learned about TeamMates at a gala, at a time when he was looking for ways to give back. A father of five, he knew he would enjoy working with students. Marty brought a wealth of diverse experiences to the role of mentor. He had lived in Nebraska, Guam (during his father’s civil service during the Vietnam War) and finally, Virginia. Marty earned an electrical engineering degree from Old Dominion and applied it to his career with the U.S. Navy, retiring as a senior manager in the Department of Defense.
Marty met his mentee, Kaleb, during Kaleb’s eighth-grade year. With a shared interest in engineering their match flourished; from middle school to college years; from Jenga towers and pick-up basketball, to creating beautiful wood projects together — auctioning one piece off at a TeamMates fundraiser.
Kaleb is completing his second year of college now, on his way to a degree in manufacturing engineering. Marty and Kaleb continue to meet through the TeamMates Plusprogram, two men now, catching up on life and whatever it has brought them in a month’s time. To Marty, it has been a privilege to watch the somewhat shy young man come out of his shell and become a leader.
“Kaleb was a great kid when we started and he has grown to a wonderful young man. It’s really a blessing to work with him. It will be fun to see him launch himself into his adult life,” Marty said.
Marty has exceeded his original goal to simply give back as a volunteer. He started the mentorship journey again with his second match, an eighth-grader at Crete Public Schools. He also added the role of President of Crete’s TeamMates Board.
“Being on the board, I get to see more things about TeamMates that make me even more passionate about it and making sure we have a viable program for the future.”
‘Viable’ includes finding mentors like himself, people willing to lend a little bit of time to impact a young person’s future in a big way. It’s not hard, he promises, and you’ll likely get as much from it as the student does.
“You’re there to listen — not necessarily to solve anything — but to be an ear. Advise. Encourage. Build a friendship. No one can have too many people in their life who are positive.”
Kaleb White, mentee:
With two older brothers completing the TeamMates mentoring program, Kaleb can’t remember when he didn’t know about TeamMates. It seemed natural to become a mentee in the fifth grade at Crete Public Schools. When his mentor moved away for a job opportunity, Kaleb was a bit nervous about starting from scratch with a new person.
He needn’t have worried. His new mentor, Marty, was easy to talk to. Husker football and sports was a favorite topic for both. “I’d be late for my next class sometimes because we could talk for hours,” Kaleb recalls. One weekly session built on the next: from eighth-grade to high school, from high-school graduation to college.
Kaleb is 19 now, a student at Southeast Community College in Milford, on track to graduate next May with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. He also is working at Kawasaki Motors through an internship.
He and Marty still meet about once a month through the TeamMates Plus program.
When they met for the first time as retiree and college freshman, they shared dinner at the Pizza Kitchen in Milford and it felt like a new chapter of a favorite book. …Stay ahead of stuff, Marty encouraged, …You don’t want to fall behind at college. They talked of internships and first-year coursework.
Kaleb felt grateful to have this mentor be a part of his life for so long.
“(Marty’s) one of those people who are a natural leader and you just want to do things correctly when he’s around. It rubbed off on me. Sometimes I’d think before I made a decision, ‘Is this something that’s smart? Is it something I could tell my mentor about?’ It was nice to have someone like that through school, in addition to my parents.”
They made memories together that will stick with him for a long time. In Kaleb’s high school years, he and Marty built wood projects together. One project was a gift for a close family friend and veteran. At a family gathering, Kaleb heard just a bit of what the friend dealt with in his time in Afghanistan. Kaleb wanted to make something that would show gratitude for his friend’s service. Kaleb and Marty made a plaque that read: “Not All Heroes Wear Capes.”
Their next wood project was an end table with a drawer and oak top in a brickwork pattern — to be sold at a TeamMates gala. Kaleb was selected to speak. The kid who was once pretty shy, pretty quick to step away from the limelight — he shined that night, delivering a heartfelt message to a crowd of about 300.
“I got to meet Tom Osborne and my whole family was there. It was a pretty special event.”
If everyone could hear Tom Osborne’s story about the ‘ripple effect’ of the mentor who changed (Tom’s) grandfather’s life and in turn many others, more people would volunteer for the role, in Kaleb’s opinion.
“I think people don’t understand that a half-hour a week can affect somebody’s life…It’s a blessing. It definitely opened up opportunities in my life and it doesn’t take much time at all. It doesn’t take any skill to be there for somebody.”
Click here to become a mentor, or to learn more about Crete Public Schools’ chapter, contact Zoe White @ 402.826.7775 or email@example.com.