Mentoring Moments: 10,000 Connections with Hector Hernandez

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July 27th, 2020
Posted In: Uncategorized

Hector Hernandez responded to the call of service through an email he received via LinkedIn from 10,000 Connections. A native of Southern California, Hector moved to Boston because of work. He is the regional director of human resources for Asics, a running shoe company.  Responding to the email, Hector was connected to Partners with Youth with Disabilities. This nonprofit works to build the skills and abilities of young people with disabilities and increase the inclusivity of workplaces, organizations, and communities and is a partner in Mass Mentoring Partnership’s Network. Hector talked about his journey as a mentor.

Tell me about your mentoring story.

I moved to Boston in 2018. I started looking for opportunities to do volunteer work. When I connected to PYD, it was exciting to hear about the different mentoring programs. I was interested in working with young adults.  I was matched with Johann Sauer. He is in his early 20s and was looking for someone to help build job skills and help with his resume. He recently got a job at a supermarket. We now meet for coffee after his shift.

I have friends who have had children with Down syndrome and understand how important it is for young people to feel comfortable and safe.  I wanted to make sure Johann feels comfortable with me. He is big on texting. I like that because I can interact with him at any time. Johann’s mom is great along with his dad.  She has helped me in figuring out ways in which we can connect and different activities we can do.

I have brought Johann to work to introduce him to people at my job. Considering the recent COVID-19 outbreak, PYD has been amazing in reaching out and offering resources on how to creatively connect online.  They follow up and are always available. They sent out an email about things you can do with your mentee.  One of the ideas was to watch a movie virtually and discuss it afterward. Another item was doing virtual museum tours, which is also great. 

We often say relationships matter. What does this particular relationship mean to you?

To me it means I am helping someone with a life skill that he can use in the future. I have made a friend in a new city. He has taught me how to approach things differently. Johann is very calm. I am used to navigating people and conversations given the work that I do. Johann has taught me a lot about patience and not to lose patience. Johann likes museums so we have gone to many of them in the Greater Boston area.

We went to the Natural History Museum in Cambridge. Johann is attracted to things that have a lot of interaction. It was a good experience. I have never been to that museum so he was excited to be my guide and to show me all of the things that are cool to him. It was great seeing the museum through his eyes.

What do you hope to impart to your mentee?

A big part of why the match happened was because his mom was trying to get him to be independent. I am really working to make sure that he gets used to being around other people. I have brought him to the office to meet new people and taught him how to introduce himself. I think of it as another skill set to build. It’s okay to build new relationships.  Being your authentic self and asking questions are skills he can use that will help him socialize a little bit more with others. I feel good about doing that.

What would you say to those who are on the fence about mentoring?

It sounds like a big commitment and it is because you are helping someone. The reward you get for helping someone is bigger than your time constraints or any challenges. I have learned to listen a lot to Johann.

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