A New Mentor’s Story


As one of our newest volunteers, Lisa Allen has been interested in becoming a youth mentor for quite some time. For several years, she attended Refugee Care Collective trainings and has raised support for Restart Kits, but never completed the process of becoming a mentor.

That all changed when she experienced a perspective shift returning from a trip abroad. In her own words:

“I recently had an encounter that I don’t think I’ll ever come back from emotionally and I want to lean into instead.

I work for an international NGO and make occasional trips to East Africa, and was recently headed back home from Kigali, Rwanda. When I got to the airport, I noticed a group of 30-40 people all clustered together. My first instinct was to beat them to TSA so I didn’t get stuck behind them, but as I was standing in line, I started noticing more about this group. They weren’t talking, they didn’t have any bags, some were literally scarred or had missing limbs. And that’s when I noticed what they were each carrying – a tote that said “UN IOM” — and it hit me. They were refugees in the process of being resettled.

Fast forward 20 minutes and I’m in passport control, and I overhear the conversation between the agent and learn that they were being escorted to the States (I never learned exactly where). Fast forward again, and I’m sitting in the waiting room for the flight and all of a sudden dozens of these men, women, and children are sitting in the seats next to me. No one looks happy or excited about what’s ahead, but instead there’s this intense quiet, this calm before the storm, this unavoidable solemness and dread that coats the room. And then we got on the plane together.

We parted ways in the Amsterdam airport, but I’ll never forget their faces or the quiet in that waiting room. And I’ll never forget the sight of a group of UN escorts waiting for them at the airport with signs and tired smiles.

Flying alongside a group of refugees is a reality that I never imagined myself experiencing, but it’s lingered with me since and I don’t want to let myself go unaffected by it. Call it fate or call it coincidence, but I’m choosing to see this as the nudge to finally becoming the youth mentor that I’ve been wanting to become for years now. To be able to be a loving and welcoming presence for someone who has experienced and lost so much.”

Lisa has recently completed the application process to become a mentor and is now coming alongside a 15 year old from Ukraine. She will be helping the young person dream about their future, adjust to life in a new city, apply to colleges, and find work to help support her family.

If you are interested in becoming a youth mentor, consider attending an upcoming volunteer orientation or fill out our Volunteer Inquiry Form.

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