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January 29, 2018 - Four Centreville Bankers Talk About Youth Mentoring

Once a week, Donna Petersen leaves her office at Centreville Bank and goes to a local elementary school to spend an hour mentoring a young girl. Small in stature, Donna’s mentee is sometimes bullied by other children. Despite her challenges, she is a smiling, happy child who looks forward to the future. “She has limited contact with her mother, so the most important thing I can do is to be a role model for her,” says Donna, who is the Bank’s payroll administrator. “We play games together, and sometimes we just talk. When we discuss bullying, she and I work together to find ways for her to handle it. Her teachers tell me that they have seen an improvement and that she really looks forward to my visits.”

Donna is one of four Centreville bankers who have been volunteering through Mentor Rhode Island for several years. Combined, they have mentored a total of seven children. “Becoming a mentor has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” says Cindy Joaquin, mortgage originator. “My mentee continually brings a smile to my face and I hope I am doing the same for her. I have seen her grow from a shy fifth grader into a confident eleventh grader. I have always felt that she has done more for me than I have for her. She has made me a better person for knowing her.”

Gale Lucier, human resources coordinator, agrees with that sentiment. She is in her third year mentoring a girl who is now in the fifth grade. “My mentee and I have built a very good relationship,” she says. “We have a lot of laughs. She especially enjoys spending time outside, and she seems happy to talk to me about her interests as well as things that concern her. My job isn’t to tell her how to solve her problems; just talking things over makes her feel better. I became good friends with her second-grade teacher, who told me how much our mentor-mentee relationship made a difference in her school attendance.”

Denise Tourangeau, another mortgage originator, has been mentoring for seven years and currently mentors a fourth-grade boy. “I’ve been with him since he was in the first grade, and I feel like he is one of my own kids!” she exclaims. “He is a joy who makes my day every time I see him. His family never misses the opportunity to tell me how much having a mentor means to him. He is the most caring little guy I’ve ever met -- he knows everyone in the school on a first-name basis, so I nicknamed him ‘The Mayor. I’m planning to continue with him when he goes on to middle school next year.”

 

Centreville Bank provides employees with many ways to give back to the community. For these four women, the long-term benefits of mentorship are well worth their investment of time and talent. Donna sums it up: “We’re thankful that the Bank allows us time to mentor each week. Every year, there’s a mentor-mentee celebration, and mentees who are graduating from high school stand up and speak about the influence their mentors have had on their lives. It’s very moving to hear their stories and learn about their hopes and plans for the future. From the outside, it might be hard to see how just one hour a week makes such a significant difference in a child’s life, but I promise you, it does.” 

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