Friends of the Children – Boston, one of our amazing partner organizations, transforms lives and breaks the cycle of poverty through the power of relationships.
When Miguel was paired with his mentor Jesse in the 7th grade, they became fast friends. Miguel has been a part of Friends for 12 years now (since he was in 1st grade) and has been paired with Jesse for 7 years. Jesse explained how he was paired with Miguel all those years ago, saying “Our model selects youth who have experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) by the time they reach kindergarten. We partner with community organizations, schools, and foster care systems to help us identify children ages 4 to 6 who could most benefit from a relationship with a Friend and are with them until they graduate high school. So, I’ve been working with Miguel since he was in 6th grade, and we first did the Rodman Ride in 2016.”
“The Rodman Ride has made a huge impact on both of us, truly,” Jesse said. “Miguel and I have used the Rodman Ride to set goals, work towards independence, and exercise. Miguel was in middle school and was fighting for more freedom. We discussed how he could use biking as a method to go places and not rely on his parents. Together, we made a PowerPoint presentation to his caregivers on how he was going to be safe (find my iPhone to track location and a signed contract to wear a helmet) and convinced them to let him get a bike. From there we practiced his route to school and explored different parts of the city.”
Their relationship riding bikes together helped Miguel learn some invaluable life skills. “I helped get him a job at a bike shop where he made repairs and learned about bike advocacy around the city. In 7th grade Miguel set a goal of being more regular with his exercising and building healthy habits– just as we were invited to participate in the ride. We planned rides all around Boston of increasing length to get in shape and more comfortable riding long distances. We set and tracked goals, challenging ourselves and each other to improve each ride.”
Jesse recalls completing the Rodman Ride for Kids in 2016 with Miguel, saying “I’ll always remember the last two miles of the ride in 2016 going across the finish line together, and the smile he had at the barbeque afterwards.”
When asked what he and Miguel have gotten out of riding together at the Rodman Ride for Kids and their mentorship, Jesse said “To be able to complete the ride, together, reinforces so much of what Friends of the Children and specifically our relationship has been built on. We joke around, we make a shared playlist to listen to on the ride, we look forward to it, but really we see it as an anchoring part of our relationship.”
Miguel graduated high school this past year and has graduated from being an achiever (what the Friends program calls their mentees). “The first two questions he asked when discussing the transition to alumni was: “Can I still call you” and “can we still do the Rodman Ride?””