Happiness is. …. hanging with a horse. At least it is for Tara, the young mom I mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Young Parents Mentoring Program.
The first time I really had a one-on-one conversation with Tara, she shared with me a lot about her life that was sad, difficult, and disappointing. But then she started to talk about horses. She talked and talked and talked about everything horse related, of which I understood nothing. But I understood the look on her face. Pure happiness.
I knew then that we had to find a way to get horses into this young mom’s life. Sure enough, one of the volunteers in the program, Margaret, has horses. We made a plan to visit yesterday, only Tara looked like she was going to die. She was sick. Her stomach was upset, (something she tends to experience when she’s under a lot of stress, which is often). She could barely talk. I came very close, very close to canceling our trip to the horses. But I knew what this meant to Tara. So off we went. I was just hoping she wouldn’t throw up in my car.
Once we got there, Tara’s face changed. She was happy. Relaxed. She spent over an hour brushing the shedding Mariah in this photo. I knew a deep friendship was developing between the two. You could see it on both of their faces.
We made a plan with the generous Margaret to continue this friendship. As I drove Tara home, she realized that maybe her stomach ache was actually from being nervous about the visit. It meant so much. You see, the last time Tara got to spend any time with horses was about three years ago in a rehab facility. She’s been clean and sober since then.
Tara’s life has still got plenty of stress, depression and anxiety. She is still working hard to be the loving mom she is to little Eli. But now she has Mariah. She has horses in her life again. And that matters.
It reminds me that we need more opportunities for young people to have their “thing” in their lives. Whether that’s painting, pottery or playing sports. Nature, acting, writing, whatever. We need more caring adults like Margaret willing to share their passion for these things and for mentoring youth living in difficult circumstances.
We need to give our young people a break. A break from the sometimes enormous burdens they are carrying from poverty, broken families, drugs and alcohol, mental illness. We need more “horses” in their lives.
In one year the Young Parents Mentoring Program program has grown from six young mothers to 23 young mothers. The program needs mentors, and - once per month - food coordinators, and child care volunteers. Can you help?
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“My daughter was just thrilled about her first meeting with her Big Sister. She came home with her BBBS sticker plastered across her chest and telling us all very loudly how great it was.”
–Mom of a 1st grader
Green Street School, Brattleboro