Sometimes one can make a change

Published 10:46 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

While listening to the radio the other day an advertisement was made about needing people to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

The idea of mentoring a child is one I have always been in support of, but this time I thought back to my childhood. They asked, “Who was an influence in your life?”

Believe it or not, my mother’s Avon lady was a huge influence in my life and the choice of my area of education.

Somehow she discovered that I could draw and she encouraged me. My parents I don’t think even realized I had some talent.

She made an effort every time she came to our house (I was the youngest and only girl) to befriend me.

She would give me some of those tiny lipstick samples which were in a white plastic holder. I was also allowed to “organize” her bag of goodies, smelling the fragrances and looking at all the new products.

I remember I would show her my drawings and ask her opinion.

I don’t know what ever became of her. Her name was Mildred Larson and I am sure she has passed on, as has my own mother.

I probably never even told her that because of her I became an art major.

Her visits were probably made one or twice a month in the years I was between 11 and 13. They seem distance and yet I can almost smell the perfume samples.

I have written stories many times about becoming a mentor, whether a grandparents who goes to the grade school to read with a child during the lunch hour – a “lunch buddy,” or a Big Brother or Sister, who sets aside a few hours to to a listener, take the child to a movie or out to eat.

Are you considering being a mentor?

It really isn’t a difficult process.

There are probably checks on your background, in order to protect the children.

But if you are nervous about whether you could become an influence to the good in a child’s life, there are people really to help you, either with reassurance or training.

Would you like the chance to learn more about how you can be the caring adult that helps a child be successful in school, in relationships and in life?

The Mentoring Collaborative and the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan helps current and potential mentors a chance to come together and learn and share their experiences.

If you would like to learn more about mentoring or how to set up a training in your community or at your workplace please contact Doris Higgins at the Volunteer Center. She is the executive director of the Volunteer Center of Southwest Michigan.

Reach her at:, 210 Main St., Suite 237, 605 Pleasant St., Niles, MI 49120. Call 683-5464, or visit

You may never know that you had a big influence on the child’s future. That is just a chance you have to take. But I can assure you if you give a child some attention, listen to them and offer positive comments, they will respond in a good way.

Do it for the child, but you will also benefit. the feeling you get every time you see their face light up when you visit, is sure to warm your heart.

Marcia Steffens is the associate editor of the Niles Daily Star and editor of the Cassopolis Vigilant and the Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at: