January 20, 2017

At Summer Search, gratitude is part of everything we do. One of our core values is to “say thank you seven times.”
So, while that means we don’t need an excuse to express gratitude, we were beyond excited that yesterday was “Thank Your Mentor Day” (part of National Mentoring Month)!

This was an opportunity for our students, alumni, and staff to reflect on the ways their lives have benefited from a caring, supportive relationship with a mentor, and for them to say thank you.

First up, some of our Summer Search New York City high school students got together to make this thank you video.

We love that!

Our alumni community, both near and far, also reached out with video messages. Bay Area alumna Julie Taeko Gramlich sent her heartfelt video all the way from Japan, while Annissa Byrd took a break from hiking in the North Bay woods to record her short, but sweet message.

See how Annissa is turning her passion for food into her dream job »

But it’s not just videos!

Carolina, a Bay Area Summer Searcher and junior at Napa High School, wrote a letter to her mentor, Donaciano Botello Torres, to share how grateful she is for his support.

“I’m writing to express my sincere gratitude for all the time and dedication you have put into working with me. As a proud member of Summer Search, I am very lucky to be granted with such an inspiring mentor who has not only provided me with the best guidance, but also motivated me to overcome obstacles that have challenged me throughout my high school career.

“I never thought I would learn so much about myself from someone else. If it weren’t for everything you told me, I wouldn’t have believed in myself or seen what I’m really capable of. I’m very grateful to not only have someone to guide me, but a friend to talk to. I know that no matter what you will always be there with the perfect guidance and advice that will continue to help me grow.

“I know I’m not the only one who feels grateful for having such an inspiring mentor. If it weren’t for the Summer Search program not many of us would have experienced life-changing moments or had someone to lead us into an educated future. Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do for Summer Search students.”

DBT and CarolinaDonaciano and Carolina.

Donaciano, also known as “DBT” to his friends and colleagues, is not only a Bay Area Mentor. He is a Summer Search alumnus.

He reflected on his long journey and why he wanted to become a mentor.

“I remember walking across the stage at my middle school graduation and thinking, wow, this is a big accomplishment for me. I had made it further than my father, and was on my way to high school.

“I attended Saturday school in order to make up the credits I needed to be able to graduate. That is when my first mentor, Martha Nunez, stepped in to help guide me. She took me under her wing and gave me unconditional support. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t doing well in school, she believed in my potential and pushed me to be better. She challenged me to be a leader, to use my voice, to step outside of my comfort zone. She became a beacon of light, who was always guiding people to shore.

“I decided that I wanted to be like her, to be there for students in any situation… I became a mentor to be able to give back to my community, to support students not just academically but emotionally as Martha had done for me.”

Donaciano also gave a shout-out to his Summer Search mentor, Jessica Vibberts, saying that “she was willing to provide support and a safe space where I could be myself and not worry about what others wanted me to be. As a mentor, my goal is to provide students with the same safe space the Jessica provided me, and I want to challenge students to reach their full potential.”

We’re so grateful that DBT’s journey came full circle and that he ended up back at Summer Search!

Stay tuned for more #NationalMentoringMonth stories by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

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