Meet One of Our Mentors
My name is Mark, and I am a mentor for Hope Village. I grew up in Tarrytown, NY and moved to Chippewa Falls in 1985 for a job with what was then Cray Research. My education and professional background is in electrical engineering.
I first heard about Hope Village when Mike Cohoon gave a talk at a Feed My People conference in the spring of 2019 . As a parishioner of Notre Dame Church, I saw many Christian churches in Chippewa Falls host these tiny houses on their property and wondered how our church could do the same. At the time, there weren’t any Catholic churches in our area hosting one. In 2019, I was inspired to get one to our church’s property. Though it took me almost one year to research, present and receive final approval from city officials and the Catholic diocese, it was well worth the wait and effort in getting one to our church.
The first family to move in there was a mom and her four children on the evening of March 13. Their first full day in the house was my mom’s birthday. It’s been 30 years since her passing, but I saw this as a sign from Jesus that she was with me. I was also at a point in my life making a slow return to my Catholic faith. It had been more than 50 years since I had gone to confession, and I had not been in a Catholic church since high school. I truly saw this tiny house moment as a blessing.
With Hope Village, I helped renovate some tiny houses when they were getting outfitted to house some clients. Currently, I serve on the promotions committee, maintaining the Hope Village website and building its monthly newsletters. When Hope Village was spearheading its Welcome Home capital campaign, I served on the finance committee to help with communication materials and reviewing the financial case statement.
Since March 2020, I have served as a mentor and helped 10 different individuals and groups of families. I help them in whatever ways they need to be successful. Sometimes, they need transportation to their weekly meetings with a Hope Village navigator and medical appointments. Other times, I have tutored adults and children with various subjects. Once I had the joy of teaching a child how to ride a bike in our church’s parking lot. Hope Village mentors assist and connect guests with community resources to help get their lives back on track, such as getting a job, receiving medical assistance and finding rental housing. The biggest reward of serving as a volunteer mentor is seeing people succeed. It’s rewarding to know I helped in a small way. My wife and I have maintained a friendship with a family for two years since they moved out of a tiny house.
Hope Village guests live in our community. They are our neighbors. They are people we may come into contact with at the grocery store or out in public. They may be someone’s spouse, sibling, relative, friend or coworker. It’s important to remember everyone needs a hand up sometimes during difficult times in their life.
Hope Village is always looking for more mentors to guide guests through their programs and meet their goals and needs. The time commitment level is as much or as little as you want to contribute. Any amount of help one can give can mean a world of difference for the guests.
More people should consider serving as a mentor to offer their knowledge and share their experiences with guests. It’s a very rewarding feeling to give back knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.
-Mark, Hope Village mentor and volunteer