When Jimmy first met his mentee Ben, the business pioneer's smile beamed from ear to ear. He hoped to provide a young person with the support and guidance he lacked as a budding entrepreneur growing up in Buffalo — and mentoring with Buffalo Prep offered him the chance to do just that.
Ben and Jimmy started chatting online in April 2021 and soon found they shared common interests. Over the following weeks and months, Jimmy dedicated time to building a relationship with Ben, and the two food lovers started going out for regular bites to eat.
“One of the fascinating things about having Jimmy as a mentor is that he isn't someone from my familial or social circle, which offers me the ability to have conversations and learn from someone that has a perspective and knowledge of life that's different from what I know,” Ben explains. “Jimmy and I often go out to eat together — we both love food — and those times are always spent with enriching and meaningful conversations.”
Discovering Common Ground and Contrasts
A striking feature of Jimmy and Ben’s mentoring relationship is their similar backgrounds. Both grew up in Buffalo in single-parent households where their mom was their primary caretaker and biggest fan. While Jimmy’s determination ultimately led to a successful career, he believes having a mentor would have allowed him to accomplish goals faster and avoid a few pitfalls along the way.
“Being a mentor has given me an opportunity to reflect upon my youth, share some of my trials and tribulations, and provide advice that will help Ben navigate the world with the future in mind,” Jimmy said. “Ben has also helped me understand his generation, along with the differences in the challenges we both face.”
The pair's mutual appreciation for good conversation helped them to embrace their similarities and contrasts — learning from each other in the process.
Planning Future Adventures
18 months after their mentoring relationship began, Ben continues to flourish into a respected yet humble young man. Over the summer he graduated from high school and received the Head of School Award for his activism, character, and contributions to the school community. Jimmy showed up to see his mentee graduate and offered support from the sidelines as Ben was emcee at Buffalo Prep's annual Senior Scholar Celebration.
“[Jimmy] has become a very prominent figure in my life, and I have nothing but gratitude for him being willing to give me his time and effort in establishing a mentor relationship with me,” Ben said.
Ben has been welcomed into Jimmy's family and the pair continue to plan future activities. For Jimmy, this means taking his mentee to one of his favorite cities in the world, New York City.
“My relationship with Ben evolves with every interaction and has developed to be one of the most meaningful relationships in my life,” Jimmy says. “I look forward to sharing with him a world outside of Buffalo and helping him see the possibilities that the world has to offer. I became a mentor to make a positive impact in someone's life, and I'm glad to see that I'm able to do that with Ben.” Jimmy is one of the amazing mentors nominated for the 2022 MENTOR of the Year Awards. If you know someone who's fostered a meaningful relationship with their mentee, nominate them for next year's awards!