Cas Peters joined PLOT in September of 2017 and was matched with a 10 year old boy from Central Brooklyn who has spent most of his childhood in foster care. Cas joined PLOT because he wanted an opportunity to impact someone’s life for the better and to make a new friend. Thus far, Cas has significantly impacted the life of his mentee, Israel. Before joining PLOT, Israel was struggling in school and with his social skills. Cas created a safe space for Israel by checking in with him during the week, helping him with homework, and encouraging him to try new things. Since being matched, the active duo have participated in an event hosted at the mayor’s office, have worked on school projects together, and have spent time playing football. Cas keeps in touch with Israel and his family a couple of times per month, offering consistency and promoting communication. Cas has shown compassion and commitment as a PLOT mentor. When asked how the match was going, Debbie, Israel’s foster mom, said “Cas is perfect. He is just what Israel needed.”
Q&A with Cas Peters, PLOT Mentor:
Tea (PLOT Mentor Coach): What made you want to become a mentor?
Cas: I’ve always wanted to give back because I have been very fortunate in my life with having tremendous mentors who’ve made big differences and exposed me to a number of opportunities and career interests that I would never have dreamed of. Also, I work for City Hall and City Hall has a mentoring program that allows employees in the Mayor’s office to allocate four work hours per month towards mentoring a youth. Even though I mentor on weekends, the program helped contribute to my interest in becoming a mentor.
Tea: What was it like when you first met your mentee?
Cas: I was a little nervous about it and was hoping we would have a good relationship. But I had gone through the training that PLOT offers, so I went into it with the understanding that the first time we meet, we may not click right away. So I just tried to be myself and put myself in the shoes of my mentee and his family, and was conscious of doing more listening than talking. I think it was a really good idea to meet the family at their home and spend time there so they could all kind of get to know me together at first. I have also been lucky in that Israel always has ideas for things he wants to do. Part of what I think challenges some mentors is that the mentee is not very communicative, but Israel knows what kinds of experiences he wants to have and places he wants to go when we spend time together, so I’m like, “Sounds great. We can do that.” For example, one time he was like, “You know, I’m feeling I’m behind on my homework. Can you take me to the library?” We had some really good first interactions that I think made him feel comfortable and be able to articulate what he wants out of a mentor and mentee relationship.
Tea: What types of activities do you do with your mentee?
Cas: We have visited museums, libraries and parks. We have also played basketball at the YMCA and toured Gracie Mansion.
Tea: What has been the best part about being a mentor?
Cas: Definitely getting to know Israel.
Tea: What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a mentor?
Cas: Do it! Its a win-win for you and your mentee. Put yourself out there and be okay with a little bit of the unknown and a little bit of the discomfort of not knowing exactly what it will be like or what the family dynamic is going to be. Trust that it will improve your and the mentee’s quality of life, focus on the mission and why you’re doing it. There is a great need for more mentors of color.
Tea: What qualities do you think someone who’s considering being a mentor should have?
Cas: Being easygoing and personable are definitely attributes that go a long way. If you have a big heart, I think it will come naturally to you.
Tea: Thank you for all you do!
Cas: It is a pleasure, thank you.
Nelson has been a PLOT mentor for three years. As a police officer for the last 13 years, Nelson has witnessed many young people get caught up in the criminal justice system. In his work as a mentor, he helps his mentee with decision-making skills. He wants to help young men learn to evaluate the pros and cons of their own decisions before they make a choice. Mentoring and guiding youth come naturally to Nelson so PLOT is a great fit for him. “As a mentor,” Nelson states, “I wish to guide my mentee and help him achieve his full potential.” It’s his goal to help his mentee discover who he is. “I want to help him take small steps towards his goals and hopefully these small steps will lead him to travel the world.”
Chris has been a mentor with PLOT since the beginning! When asked why he mentors, Chris shared, “I don’t mentor because I pretend to have the answers; I mentor because I want to be there when there are questions. The world is big, and I was lucky to have a few people along the way who looked out for me and had my back growing up amidst all the confusion. They instilled faith and confidence in me that I can go after my dreams. Meeting my mentee was a chance to pass this on, to give him the boost in outlook that I received, to expand his mind and lead by example. It’s also a way to make a new friend and challenge myself, because younger people always have a great way of looking at the world in a way that humbles me.”