Mentoring builds connections that go beyond age and experience, as shared activities and life lessons weave together to create lasting bonds. For mentees Destiny, Taio, and Alessandra, their mentors not only serve as guides through New York City; they stand beside them, navigating the journey into adulthood together. Destiny & Kate's Story
Destiny’s mom, a first-generation immigrant from West Africa, enrolled Destiny in Bigs & Little’s NYC Mentoring’s program seeking support and community for her daughter—and the chance to explore all the city has to offer. Mentor Kate Andriola was excited to introduce Destiny to new experiences, from visiting the Bronx Botanical Gardens to going ice skating at Bryant Park. They even buckled up and tried bumper cars on ice, Kate recalls.
“Throughout our relationship, Destiny and I have enjoyed a really great variety of activities together,” Kate says. “We have both pushed each other to try new things, have new experiences, and sample new foods!”
Since meeting Kate, Destiny has a newfound sense of confidence and feels “like everything is possible,” she says. Kate, on the other hand, has a restored faith in the future having seen the world through Destiny’s eyes.
“In many ways, my relationship with Destiny represents how I feel about the next generation,” she says. “In viewing social issues, interpersonal relationships, and just day-to-day life through Destiny’s lens, I always walk away with a deeper appreciation for the little things—her positivity is infectious!” Marcell & Taio's Story
Eyitayo Adegoke, affectionately known as Taio, decided to become a youth mentor to learn more about life and be a positive influence on a young person. He is motivated by a desire to offer the kind of attention and guidance he lacked during his upbringing and found a kindred spirit in the energetic and friendly Marcell. Marcell, in turn, was seeking a big brother figure in his life to guide his educational journey.
After being matched by Connections Mentor, the two soon started to get to know each other while playing basketball, going to museums, and volunteering. They are also active participants in Stable Moments’ equine-assisted mentorship program, where they care for their horse, Charlie. “My mentor and I had many fun moments, and there will be definitely more ahead,” Marcell says. “The program helped me be beneficial and productive when I had nothing to do. Having a mentor is like having a best friend whenever needed.”
Alessandra & Christina's Story
Outgoing and friendly by nature, Alessandra found herself yearning for the social interactions she missed at the height of the pandemic. Alessandra’s mom heard about Big & Littles NYC through other parents and thought the opportunity would be an ideal way for her daughters to connect with people beyond their neighborhood circle. In 2021, Alessandra was matched with mentor Christina Aguirre, who was motivated to volunteer after reading an article on youth mentorship.
Alessandra shared with Christina that she’d like to become a veterinarian—so one of the pair's favorite outings has been to the Bronx Zoo. “We've seen everything!" Alessandra exclaims as they recall also attending a Yankee’s game, going to the museum, and heading to H Mart for Korean snacks.
Since their initial connection, the bond between Alessandra and Christina continues to flourish, marked by shared experiences and the mutual growth that defines their time together.
“One of the coolest things about the last few years is how I decided to pursue a graduate degree, and now we talk about our school life, homework, and new friends,” Christina says. “We're both in school! I'm glad she can see that education is lifelong learning.” For Alessandra, meeting Christina has been like finding another sister, she notes. “She [Christina] is caring and funny and easy to talk to, and likes to try new things,” Alessandra said. “I always have fun when we’re together, even when it’s things that I’ve never done before like going to a museum. I know she'll be there when I need her.”
Feeling inspired by these stories? You can be a positive force in a young person's journey. Explore mentoring opportunities today at mentornewyork.org/get-involved.