OSAGE | Mentor one child, change two lives. The concept is simple, the results immeasurable in the Bridges Mentoring Program.
For six years, Keith and Denise Mayer have been mentors with Mitchell County Bridges Mentoring program.
“It all started with our friends, who were mentors, suggesting we also become mentors,” said Keith. “They thought we would enjoy it since we’ve been around kids a lot.”
Keith, a retired school teacher, and Denise, a retired school secretary, have spent most of their lives around children.
“The experience has been good,” said Denise. “It’s also been challenging.”
Keith added, “As (mentee) Sawyer (Chisholm) gets older, it’s more challenging to find time he is available, since he’s more involved with school and sports.”
Activities have included anything from playing catch in the yard, attending Osage sporting events to hitting golf balls in the yard at Sacred Heart Church and eventually to the golf course, “because he got too strong when hitting the balls,” said Keith.
“We’ve gone to the Iowa Hawkeyes spring games,” said Denise. “We took him, a friend and two of our grandkids. They even got on the jumbotron.
“Sawyer also really enjoys being around our family. We also have him make cards and gifts for his mom at Mother’s Day, her birthday and even for Valentine’s Day.”
“One of the first things we went to was to see the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Keith. “Since he likes sports, he really liked watching them.”
“I like having Keith and Denise as mentors because they pay attention to me,” said Sawyer. “They listen to me and they respect what I have to say.”
Being active and eating treats with Keith and Denise are some of his favorite activities.
“I hope they can be my mentors until I graduate,” said Sawyer.
One of the most interesting projects was when Keith and Sawyer entered a corn growing contest through “Our Iowa” magazine.
The newspaper offered readers the chance to plant some seed corn from South America and see who could grow the tallest corn.
“Keith is the gardener, so he and Sawyer planted the corn,” said Denise. “Sawyer was probably in third or fourth grade.
“He would help water the corn and when we were on vacation, and he would have his mom bring him over to check on the corn.”
“It grew to be over 14 feet tall,” said Keith. “We didn’t win the contest but we had the tallest corn in Mitchell County.”
Rae Ann Havig, then the Bridges Mentoring Coordinator, took a picture of the two with their corn and had it incorporated into a promotional advertisement at Watts Theatre.
“Sawyer really thought it was fun to have his picture on the screen at the movie theatre,” said Denise.
The couple hopes to continue mentoring Sawyer through high school.
It all depends on how busy he gets in school, said Keith
“I think we have got a lot out of being mentors as Sawyer has being a mentee,” said Keith.
“It’s nice when you get a hug,” said Denise. “Seeing the appreciation is nice.”
“It’s good to see another positive influence in a kid’s life,” said Keith. “I don’t think you can have too many positive influences.”