When Enrique and Amanda Rojas met with CIS of Chatham County’s Mentoring Program Manager Shirille Lee more than 2 years ago, they said mentoring would be a family commitment. The mentee would be participating in family gatherings, and interacting with their own children. So before they made the commitment, their children would have to also agree to the commitment. For Shirille, this need to have their children’s approval and commitment was a sign of just how special the Rojas were.
The Rojas’ professional careers include working in schools and summer camps. They love working with children. From New York to North Carolina they have worked to encourage and support youth. Mentoring was a natural fit.
When Shirille first met Carlos, she immediately thought of the Rojas. Carlos’ world had recently been turned upside down. Other people were making decisions about his life. He had no control over the path his life had suddenly taken. It was no surprise that when he met with Shirille for the first time he was scared and very worried about “these people” that wanted to be his mentors. “You will never spend a night at their house,” Shirille recalls saying, trying to ease Carlos’ fear of being taken away.
Amanda reflects on the early days of their relationship. One of their first outings was to a basketball game that included the company of Carlos’ older sister and Shirille. The hope was that it would help Carlos relax and get to know Enrique and Amanda Rojas. He was still very skeptical of this couple and not quite sure what to make out of the concept of mentoring, but he went out with them again and again. Shirille remembers a call from his teacher that spoke of him participating more in class and by the end of the school year; she described him as “a different boy, smiling and happy.”
Fast-forward two years… That quiet, fearful boy is today a confident, smiling, skilled soccer player, who excels in school. His mentors were there for him when he needed academic support. They were there for him when he needed emotional support and when he needed stability.
The Rojas family and Carlos’ relationship has transitioned to another level, but their commitment to him is stronger than ever. Carlos will always have the Rojas’ in his life, for them, he is family. This truly was a match made in heaven!
Photo courtesy of the Rojas family. Carlos is pictured in the back left.