buildOn Bronx Students Benefit Through Mentorship
Compiled by Eli Zaritt
buildOn New York’s Youth Engagement Zone started a mentoring program at Mott Hall Bronx High School this year, partnering freshman boys and girls with upperclassmen. Our plan was for the upperclassmen to help the freshman academically, socially and emotionally. When Emmitt Baez, a junior, started getting involved with buildOn at the beginning of this year, we saw the potential in him to be a great mentor. Emmitt immediately bonded with Emerson Gutierrez, an eager freshman, and has become a hilarious guiding force in his life. They were two of the first students to reach 100 hours of service (are the only pair of mentors to have achieved this), and have both become much more engaged in their school community.
What has been the best part of our mentor/mentee relationship?
Emerson: The friendship we’ve created. This includes communicating through Facebook, texting each other and talking about what days we’re going to do service together. Becoming friends has been so awesome because I’ve gotten so close to my mentor. He is always there to help me with problems and give me advice. Every time I need homework help he doesn’t hesitate to help me.
Emmitt: It’s so awesome having a younger person that you can give advice to. The bond we’ve created has been unbelievably strong; I treat him like my little brother and we talk about almost anything.
What has been your favorite service project to attend with your mentor and why?
Emerson: The Momentum Soup Kitchen and People Living with Aids Soup Kitchen at Saint Luke’s In The Field. We help people that have HIV/AIDS and make the atmosphere peaceful for the members that go to the soup kitchens. At the soup kitchen at Saint Luke’s In The Field there’s always a basketball out and my mentor and I play ball in the gym.
Emmitt: The Momentum Project Soup Kitchen is definitely my favorite project because we get to spend a lot of time together. It’s a lot of fun and we get to directly help the community. We have really become part of the organization.
How have you benefited from doing service? What do you like most about doing community service?
Emerson: When I do service I feel very good about myself. What I like most about doing community service is making people feel comfortable, especially those who may be seen as different. I like opening their eyes; that there are people around them that won’t call them names and that they are not alone. I believe it will spread goodness and respect throughout the community.
Emmitt: Participating in service projects teaches me core values. I’ve learned to give the things I have value and love. Not everyone has the things that I have; this motivates me to go and help out the people who need it. Also, I spend quality time with my mentee. It is so great having someone who I can tell anything to, and who can tell me anything.
What have you learned about your mentor?
Emerson: He is a really cool person. He really enjoys helping out the community and is an outgoing person.
Emmitt: He trusts me. He always comes to me when he has any troubles or when he has good news. I always have a pair of opens ears for him.
Eli Zaritt is the Youth Engagement Zone Manager at Mott Hall Bronx High School. Learn more about our Afterschool Program here.
Learn more about buildOn’s Afterschool Programs here.