Join us in congratulating Yamil and his mentor Monica on their one-year match anniversary! Monica & Yamil

Since they matched in October 2020, Yamil and Monica’s mentoring relationship—like many relationships throughout the COVID-19 pandemic—has been mostly virtual. Their Friday video calls have given them a regular touchpoint, and they have met in person just a few times. In the words of their program coordinator, Sally Sanchez-Peña: “In a year when nothing was certain, Yamil and Monica were able to find a beautiful connection.”

Silver Lining Mentoring spoke with Yamil and Monica to learn more about their relationship. Here’s what they had to say: 

“We have spoken about how I can just be a better person and focus more on myself,” said Yamil. “And whenever I have a job, trying to make the best out of it.” The pair also discusses Yamil’s goals: completing his GED and becoming a singer. 

Monica was quick to point out that Yamil writes almost every day, adding, “Yamil is a guy with tons of talent and tons of ability, and he is literally just waiting for the resources to explode and get it done. He has so much creativity with his music and his writing, he just needs someone to lift him up and go. He can do it.” She looks forward to getting VIP tickets to his show one day, and the pair hope to spend some time in a studio soon, once it’s safe to do so.

Building a relationship
At first, Yamil wasn’t sure that a mentoring relationship was right for him. With some encouragement from his social worker, Yamil signed up and now finds it rewarding: “You can at least have someone to talk to every once in a while, explain to them what’s going on, and they can give you advice. You can see from their point of view and yours how to go about your problems in life. I know Monica has helped me a lot of times where I’m like, ‘Shoot, what do I do?’ She has given me good advice – it’s helped everything be smooth. It’s good to have someone on your side to support you on your way.” 

Yamil’s advice to other young people interested in having a mentor? “Take it seriously. Mentors are there to hear you out and be there with you.”

Monica, on the other hand, always wanted to be a mentor. She had people who helped her along when she was younger, and feels that it’s only natural to do that for someone else. Whether in person or on the other end of a text, mentoring is all about being there for a young person. As a mentor, Monica feels her role is to elevate Yamil and help him see his full potential. 

“[Mentoring] can be what you and your mentee make it. You could be a bit player in the background cheering them on, or you could play a larger role. It’s rewarding for both people—as a mentor, you’re going to learn a lot about another person and their circumstances, and about yourself too.” 

How has this relationship changed you?
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t like speaking to people about my personal stuff,” Yamil said, noting that Monica is “definitely somebody I can trust. I can tell her something and unless it’s ‘I’m going to hurt myself or someone else’ or do something awful, she can keep it 100 with me, just like I can keep it 100 with her. It has played a big role in my life. She sometimes tries to make sure that I’m on track. Even though she doesn’t have to do it, she asks me that. That means a lot to me in a way—she cares about me.”

Monica also finds the relationship rewarding. “Yamil is very good and kind at correcting improper Spanish,” Monica said, reminding Yamil that she still thinks he’d be a great translator. “It’s been wonderful to meet Yamil and learn about him and what he wants to do. It’s so exciting to see a young person starting out life who has the goals and the open road in front of them to do it. It’s fun to watch someone venture on that path. It’s nice to be on the sidelines cheering.” 

Looking to the future
This one-year anniversary is just one of many milestones for Yamil and Monica. Moving into year two of their relationship, the pair plans to do more in-person activities together, working towards Yamil’s goals as he transitions to independence. 

When asked what he looks forward to the most, Yamil replied, “The support, that’s it. That’s more of what I need right now, even if it’s just a little.” 

Mentor Monica immediately reminded him that she has his back: “You have a big year coming up, and I’m looking forward to helping in any way I can.”