Matched with an eleven-year-old boy since the summer of 2007, they enjoy making crafts, scrapbooking, playing games and sports, and spending time off-grounds. An especially memorable off-grounds trip occurred when they visited the Festival of Trees at the Timonium Fairgrounds during the Christmas holidays. “After checking out all the festive decorations, visiting a reptile exhibit, seeing Santa Claus and playing games, my mentee started dancing and singing, ‘I’m just so happy!’”

“She has gone above and beyond,” says Seton Unit Director, Denise Simmons. Just recently, Marlene transitioned with her mentee as he was discharged from Villa Maria into his next placement. “She has been like a lifeline to this child, and has now committed to remaining as his mentor in his next placement,” she adds.

Marlene’s interest in mentoring was triggered after she read an article about Villa Maria’s Therapeutic Mentor Program in the Towson Times newspaper. She explains, “I had been interested in mentoring a child for many years. After two grown children had definitely left the nest, I finally made the decision to pursue that interest.”

Denise describes Marlene as “very creative” and combined with her ability to seek out and utilize available resources, she is always well prepared for an upbeat mentoring visit, even if she must restructure her visit at the last minute. “Sometimes things do not work out as planned so you must be flexible and always have a Plan B,” says Marlene.

Marlene’s mentee shares what he thinks qualifies Ms. Marlene to be a mentor by simply explaining, “To be a mentor, you have to drive and be a good person.” He also says, “My mentor is a grateful person. And I like doing scrapbooks because it’s fun and I like getting to do a lot of crafts.” This child is also learning about thoughtfulness and has made a noticeable improvement with manners, a theme Marlene has kept in the forefront of their interactions.

His consideration for others was quite apparent when he was having dinner at a Chick-Fil-A Restaurant during the holidays and happen to notice that people were handing out flyers about Operation Christmas Child. Once he learned that this was a donation drive, this mentee asked his mentor if they could fill a shoe box to help a child in need. They decided that their box would be for a girl and filled it with highlighters, candy, a doll, and a recorder. Next, they took the box to a local church to be sent overseas. When asked why he decided to do this project this mentee explains, “I wanted to do it for the kids that don’t have anything that we do.”

It is a joy to watch this mentoring match in action because Marlene’s positive nature coupled with her generous and encouraging spirit bring out the best in her mentee. One could say that she projects a contagious attitude of gratitude about life which has, in turn, been caught by her mentee!