“There is something very special about discovering you have had life experiences that can be shared with another and make a difference in their life.”
Mark has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from University of California Irvine and a Master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has been a practicing civil engineer for more than 39 years. Mark is currently a Vice President with HDR Engineering. Prior to his current position he was the San Gabriel Valley Council of Government’s Chief Engineer, the City Engineer and Public Works Director for several cities in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties and served for many years as the City Engineer for the City of Long Beach.
Mark has been a mentor with Operation Jump Start for 6 years and is currently still a mentor as well as an active Board Member.
We asked Mark to share some words about his OJS Experience
What initially attracted you to OJS?
I was referred to the program by a friend. I had been involved in my church’s youth ministry for years, and they thought being a mentor in this program would be a good fit for me. After checking out the program, I was impressed with the staff and the success they were having, and knew it was a program I wanted to get involved in.
What about mentoring do you find the most rewarding?
There is something very special about discovering you have had life experiences that can be shared with another and make a difference in their life. I used to think my life experiences were unique to me alone and were not worth sharing. What I have discovered is that while my individual circumstances may be different from what my mentee might be going through, by sharing the feelings I experienced and how I got through them with my mentee, allows my mentee to realize they too can get through their unique challenges and can do so with the support of another individual. Shared experiences are the strongest bonds we can create with others, are extremely rewarding, and generally will last a lifetime. Being a mentor in the OJS program has given me that opportunity for which I will always be grateful.
What would you say to any person thinking about becoming an OJS mentor?
These kids need you! I have heard from others when I share what I do as a mentor in the OJS program, and I usually get a reaction of “I wouldn’t have anything to talk about”, or “I can’t imagine what I could offer these kids”, or finally “I just don’t have the time”. My response is “I had the same concerns, but somehow it has all worked out”. By just being a good listener (nobody really listens to these kids anymore, they just talk to them), I was amazed at the conversations I have had with my mentees. Start by offering your time. I found that by just hanging out with my mentees and giving them my full attention, I was able to offer them something they really needed. And yes, finding the time will not always be easy, but I discovered that the return on this time investment in the OJS program and my mentees has offered me rewards far greater than what other things I probably would have done with those hours. Become an OJS mentor and discover that you really can make a difference in a kid’s life, and more importantly, make a huge difference in your own.