When I took my current job more than a year ago, a magazine in Phoenix featured the top 100 women in business. I sent each of them a letter, congratulating their achievements and introducing them to my new organization. Several replied favorably and relationships that have resulted from a letter-writing campaign have been serendipitous. (Go correspondence!)
One such friendship is my mentor, E. She recently turned 50, owns her own company and is wildly successful. We bonded over our first lunch when she told me her real love was travel — specifically to Africa. For her recent birthday, she asked friends and family to give to a local organization that will build a school and latrine in a village she visited in Niger. She told me it wasn’t enough to just build the school because in this region, girls weren’t allowed to go to school when they were on their “moons” unless there was a latrine nearby. Otherwise they were kept at home and eventually fall so far behind the boys, their educations are handicapped. So, logically, E decided a latrine was essential to the well being of the girls in this village.
Amazing. For some reason, she’s taken me under her wing and invites me to fancy luncheons, introduces me to her friends and sends me books I must read for “my profession.” Her mother recently passed away and although I was more than 2 hours late to the funeral (poor communication and long story later), I could tell she was touched I’d come. I introduced myself to her siblings, said hello to a few of the familiar faces I’ve met during the last year and watched as this strong woman wrangled with grief. Even in mourning, she somehow seemed entirely put together.
Another woman, D, also recently reached out to help me learn some much needed nonprofit skills. A revolutionary in fundraising, she has a cleverness that impresses me. She’s spent several hours with me in the last month carefully explaining charts, formulas of sorts and methods of raising more money regardless of the economy. D is a Disney nut, and I mean nut. She’s got a year-long pass and she and her husband regularly drive to Anaheim to visit their favorite rodent. She wears Disney diamond earrings, has mouse ears on her car and will talk about the Magical Kingdom whenever appropriate.
As a thank you for her recent mentorship, I sewed up a mousy pouch. I’ve yet to figure out what I can do to thank E, but I’m working on it.
Both of these relatively new friendships have reminded me of the importance of patience. These women are so very patient with me and truly want me to become stronger, smarter and better. They are willing to put in the time necessary to teach me skills that I need to be all those things. I’ve truly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with girls I’ve mentored and frankly it is so luxurious to be on the receiving end at this stage in life.
Brava to strong women who make time to help others!