On first glance, the sight of retired pediatric RN, Vicki Lindow playing in a mud puddle with a little girl who could be her granddaughter isn’t particularly noteworthy, but this is no ordinary nature walk.
Lindow has been a mentor to Darla, now in the fourth grade at Denton Elementary School, for the last five years; their trusting friendship developed over time as they shared simple activities like looking for signs of life in rain runoff.
“She loves science and animals so we talk a lot about that. She likes to draw and is very artistic,” said Lindow of Darla. “We talk a lot about the future and sometimes we just play.”
“Just playing” has been the key to their relationship according to Lindow. She decided to become a mentor through Communities In Schools of Lexington/Davidson County after some encouragement from her husband, also a CIS mentor and active community volunteer. She has enjoyed seeing Darla grow and mature in a healthy, positive way as a result of their time together.
“She now has a new perspective on life as seen through the eyes of another caring adult,” said Lindow, who also volunteers weekly at the Denton Library and is a Master Gardener in Davidson County.
“I love kids and see a real need for kids to get more adult influence and meaningful relationships. Our society has moved away from stay-at-home parents and working parents have little time. Extended family in our society today is frequently not in the same vicinity as the child,” she said. “They need good adult influence.”
Since they began working together, Lindow said she can see the impact she has made in Darla’s life in terms of improved attendance, performance and behavior at school, though she can’t take credit for her mentee’s naturally high self-esteem.
“She always has felt good about herself but we’re still working on her relationships with her peers,” said Lindow, adding that she wholeheartedly encourages others to follow her lead and mentor young people in the community.
“We need adults to mentor kids in formal and informal settings. Too often the kids are left to grow up with too little adult care or care that’s fragmented. They need a consistent, caring person in their life.”