In New Mexico, a Mutual Love of Trucks Powered a Mentoring Relationship

The heart of iMentor’s model and mission is building personal relationships. During these uncertain times, we are compelled to help sustain and bolster these connections. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we are featuring a few of our dedicated mentors. Today we talk to Mark Trimmer, a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico, an iMentor Partner Program, about his connection to his mentee of more than four years, Edgar, and how Edgar gave him a new perspective on life.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

Angela, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico, approached me to become a mentor. I did not hesitate. Although I was already very active in the youth prison ministry program, something inside me tugged at me telling me that maybe there was a great opportunity here to make a difference in one person’s life.

Tell me about your mentee.

Edgar has passion! He came to South Valley Academy (SVA) from another school and faced new pressures in a new environment. He missed his friends, but I could tell he was determined to make a big mark on the world. Edgar is the son of immigrants. He has two amazing parents: a father who works extremely hard to make it in construction and a mother who longed to see her son be the first in the family to graduate high school and maybe even go to college. Edgar has always wanted to be a role model for his younger sister, who would also be attending SVA in the future.

What is your relationship like and how has it developed over time?

When I went to SVA to meet Edgar for the first time I was a bit nervous. I tried to put myself in his shoes. Here’s what I heard: “Why would this gringo want to come down here and spend time with me? Is he a ‘do-gooder’ who’s going to try and tell me how to live?” I found years later that wasn’t too far off the mark.

Edgar made an immediate impression on me. I could see there was something inside that was bigger than his story. Many of our early conversations were around him longing to choose a career for money. I kept plugging away, trying to get him to first look at what excited him. The first few conversations were a little awkward. I could tell Edgar didn’t trust me and I wanted to work to have him vested in the process.

The turning point for me came when we discovered our mutual love for trucks. He showed me a pictures of his. I began to talk about my passions: horses and ultra-racing. Each meeting after that reflected interaction that was developing into a friendship as much as a mentor-mentee situation. We had some stops and starts. There was a point when I became frustrated because one or two nights didn’t work out, but when I found out how difficult it was for him to work out his schedule with work and family, I totally got it.

Senior year came quickly. I attended graduation and it felt as if I was attending the graduation of a family member. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. Edgar is still on an incredible path, undaunted by hardship. I will always be proud of him and I will always feel blessed that he is in my life.

How have you supported your mentee in planning for life after high school?

In senior year, Edgar was still trying to figure out the next stage of his journey. My gut told me that a two-year program would be the best start, a way to get used to the change of tempo and environment. At the end of his senior year, Edgar was met with an incredible opportunity to apply for a scholarship from Honeywell. The scholarship would cover two years at CNM and might enable him to use his CNM training and skills to work on the factory floor at Honeywell. This was huge! I was so excited for him. When the Honeywell representatives wanted to interview me about Edgar, I prepared for the call. I wanted them to know that there was no better candidate in Albuquerque, NM than this young man. Edgar was awarded the scholarship.

One of the lessons that Edgar learned on this journey is that even if you have life laid out in a neat blueprint, stuff happens. Well, “stuff” happened the summer after Edgar graduated. He took a couple of detours that nearly cost him his future. But damned if that kid didn’t turn that into an opportunity to growth. He always kept a constructive and healthy attitudeAsk me to describe how I helped Edgar and I’ll respond, “Not my question to answer.” Ask him. I hope that our connection was as beneficial to him as it has been to me. We are a good team. We will likely be so for the rest of our lives.

What have you gained from volunteering?

It was through Edgar that I sharpened my own practices of grace, tolerance, compassion, empathy, hope and empowerment. My personal life went through a number of challenges and it was my connection with and admiration for Edgar’s grace under fire that helped me navigate my way back. Five years ago, I would have never known that a young man from the south valley in Albuquerque would have a profound effect on my life, my perspective, and the impact I wish to have on the community and my world.