Meet a Mentor—William “Bill” White
S. C Johnson, “A Family Company” (SCJ) has long promoted the concept of community service to Racine, and mentor William “Bill” White is a fine example for that concept.
Bill is a Racine native and Case High School graduate who went on to Concordia College and earned a degree in Management and Communication. Bill has been at SCJ for over 34 years. In his current position as Safety/Environmental/Training Facilitator and the Waxdale plant, his main goal is to help reduce the possibility of injuries in the work place, and protecting the environment; that is something that is very challenging and rewarding for Bill. That enjoyment extends to the community in helping others in a number of ways besides the mentoring for Mentor Kenosha & Racine (Mentor KR).
Bill worked as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and Firefighter for Mount Pleasant Fire Department for over ten years, retiring over 10 years ago. He has also worked in the public schools with the JA (Junior Achievement) program, and volunteered in a number of community programs through SCJ such as Earth Day, and Racine Reads. While raising his three sons, Bill volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America, and with whatever sports team his boys might have been involved with at that time. In addition, he is also physically active with running, biking, walking, playing tennis, kayaking, and yoga.
So, with so much going on already, why would an active guy like Bill want to mentor a middle school student? While Bill was leading classes for Junior Achievement at a local school, he noticed the large class size and how difficult it was to keep the attention of so many children with such diverse needs. Bill said that he gained an increased level of respect for what teachers have to deal with, and he wanted to do something more. He had seen an article in the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce (RAMAC) newsletter describing the Mentor KR middle school initiative, and he got involved because “teachers can’t do it all,” and “it is the right thing to do!”
Bill has been working with his mentee at Mitchell Middle School for over a year and a half. It wasn’t exactly easy getting started, as Bill wasn’t sure how he could help, or what his mentee needed. The student was quiet, not very responsive, withdrawn, something that is not unusual in the early weeks of a match when the relationship is so new. Bill also understood the developmental stage of the boy from having raised his own three sons. The mentee was disorganized—papers sticking out of books and back pack, assignments missing, things forgotten. The mentee was frustrated with school.
Since organization was one key problem for his mentee, Bill devised a set of goals on a laminated card for his mentee on which they would focus throughout the year. He and the mentee talk about these goals every time they meet to assess progress. The goals center on organization of the mentee’s assignments and focusing on one thing at a time. Bill encouraged his mentee to “slow down and take his time” on assignments, to do it for himself because “it is the right thing to do.” Another focusing technique that Bill uses to begin sessions is to present his mentee with “Idioms”, these phrases, saying and or expression in the English language an example of this is; “It’s raining cats and dogs.” They discuss the words, talk about possible meanings, and then check to see what the origins actually are. This is something that the mentee really enjoys.
Bill also keeps in contact with his mentee’s mom to reinforce the mentoring goals; family support is very important to the success of the match. While progress is slow, Bill believes that his mentee is making some improvements. The mentee must agree, because he has not missed any mentoring sessions in a long time!
It is clear that the mentee is getting a lot support from Bill, but Bill also gets satisfaction from this match. Bill has gained an appreciation of the job teachers do. Working with a mentee has given him a new perspective and has broadened his focus outside of his own family. Bill believes in the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” He understands that many of us are overwhelmed with the day to day pressures, but an hour a week to mentor is “the right thing to do.” Bill believes that volunteering also helps set a good example of community involvement for his own children who volunteer their time in the community as well.
Go to http://www.uwp.edu/departments/community.partnerships/mentorkr for more information, and click on “Be A Mentor.” Invest in your community—invest in the future—invest in a child. You can provide a valuable resource for a child who needs help—one hour a week. You can make a difference in the life of a child, just like Bill White