Erin Homan, projects and analytics manager for CSX’s employee service center, was recently awarded the Cecil Shorts III Rookie of the Year Mentor Award from Achievers for Life, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization that pairs at-risk students with adult mentors nonprofit organization that pairs at-risk students with adult mentors, and the United Way of Northeast Florida.
Erin was inspired to be a mentor by the influence of nurturing adults during her own formative years. “I think back to all the caring, impactful mentors in my life growing up, and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said. Erin meets weekly with her “Little Sister” Phillia, a student at Eugene Butler Middle School, and has been gratified to be a part of her personal growth over the last year.
“She has become more introspective about what she wants out of life, and how she is managing her emotions and relationships with friends and family,” Erin said. “It’s a really beautiful experience to be a part of her journey, and I see great things for her as she makes positive choices in her own behavior and continues to establish her role as a social leader among her peers.”
As she balances her volunteer work with her career and home life, Erin hopes to counter three myths she commonly hears as objections for getting involved in mentoring: lack of time, lack of experience and difficulty relating to students.
It’s not the amount of time that matters, but the consistency of that time in a mentoring relationship,” she said. “Even after I meet with Phillia on Mondays over lunch, I find the time to drop off little notes during the week telling her I was thinking about her and couldn’t wait for our next visit. It takes no time at all, and is of infinite return to guiding a young person through life’s choices.” She also points out that being a mentor has helped her develop skills that she uses daily in her job at CSX.
“Mentoring a middle school student will make you a better employee and a better person,” she said. “Being able to relate to young people at such an impressionable time of their lives sets you up to be able to relate to anyone and in ways that didn’t realize you’d be capable of. That is development, and that is reaching one’s potential as a communicator and community advocate.”
Image courtesy of United Way of Northeast Florida.