Mentors: 'a second family'

Posted on April 26, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

When Suzanne Davis, the Mentor Facilitator at Sassarini School, matched mentors Jon Derby and Roland Gangloff with mentees Mauricio and Juan Pablo five years ago, little did she know what great friends these four strangers would become. Both Jon and Roland strongly believe in the value of strengthening their community — what better way of doing that than by enriching the life of a child.

Pictured: “The 4 Musketeers:” Roland Gangloff, teenagers Juan and Mauricio, and Jon Derby.

“I thought open heart surgery was the end of my life,” says John, “but then I met Mauricio, and now I’m playing foosball, going snow tubing, and have just taken my first trip to Alcatraz!”

“I was raised by a single mom in East L.A,” recalls Roland, who remembers tough times and how a family on his street, his second family, helped and influenced him. “That’s why I wanted to give back to the Sonoma community and become a mentor to Juan Pablo.”

Juan Pablo shared his story. “I was in third grade when my mom had a heart-attack, so I was doing bad in school. But when I got my mentor, I started doing better and started to get A’s. By the end of fourth grade, I was voted most improved student. Roland has changed how I feel about school and made it more fun.”

Mauricio and Juan Pablo like having someone they can count on. “Jon and Roland help us believe in ourselves and let us know that we have to try if we want to succeed. Our mentors empower us, offer us encouragement and help us find our courage. They are like a second family to us, like grandpas.”

The Mentoring Alliance staff believes that it takes a Valley to raise a child. In keeping with that theme, John and Roland have built a strong relationship with the boys’ parents, and are grateful that they allow them the opportunity to help enrich and broaden life experiences for their children.

The self-proclaimed ‘Four Musketeers’ are a testament to how rewarding the relationships can be. Whether they are participating in one of the many program activities provided by the Mentoring Alliance, taking a trip to the snow, going to CAL DAY, or playing games in the Altimira Mentor Center, they are laughing, joking and developing strong bonds of friendship.

Juan Pablo and Mauricio are getting good grades and looking forward to attending high school next fall. Both dream of going to college and becoming professional soccer players. And their mentors are right there, standing by them, encouraging them to follow their dreams, and staying young at heart for the effort.

The 4 Musketeers: Roland Gangloff, Juan, Mauricio and Jon Derby
Mentors become ‘like a second family