Written By: Dylan Rosenthal
On March 23, longtime Abundant Life volunteer and current Strive mentor Jonathan Showalter was honored as one of two 2017 Outstanding Mentors by Virginia Mentoring Partnership! Jonathan received his award in a ceremony held at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond in front of a packed audience that included his family and Strive Coordinator Dylan Rosenthal.
Jonathan was chosen from many nominees across the state’s 74 mentoring programs for his mentorship of Charlottesville High School senior Xavier. Currently in their fourth year of Strive together, Jonathan and Xavier’s mentoring relationship began nine years ago through Abundant Life. Jonathan served as Xavier’s weekly tutor in 4th grade, then followed him to Walker and Buford tutoring, the 5/8 Club, and Discipleship, before they joined Strive together in 2013.
In middle school, Xavier moved from Charlottesville to Crozet, 25 minutes away, and Jonathan took it upon himself to contact Xavier’s new school and arrange to tutor him there. Additionally, for almost two years Jonathan drove to Crozet once a week to pick Xavier up and bring him to Charlottesville, first for 5/8 Club, and then for Discipleship, allowing him to remain involved in the community that he had been uprooted from. Xavier returned to Charlottesville before the start of his 9th grade year.
In Strive, most of their weekly meetings have consisted of making and sharing a meal together, reviewing Xavier’s PowerSchool account for assignments and tests, tutoring in math, and talking about Xavier’s goals and steps to reach them. Jonathan has been the most committed volunteer Strive has had in terms of attending weekly meetings, responding to monthly check ins, requesting information and/or resources for his student, and attending program events. Furthermore, Jonathan has been proactive in corresponding and meeting with Xavier’s mother, guidance counselor and teachers throughout high school to make sure he receives the support he needs to be successful and achieve his goals.
Jonathan has gone so far above and beyond what is typically expected of a mentor. For several years during their mentoring relationship, Xavier’s family had neither a working phone nor internet service, so Jonathan would drop in after work to inform them of program announcements and invitations. Additionally they did not have a car, so Jonathan was Xavier’s transportation to almost all Abundant Life events and meetings. When Jonathan got married two-and-a-half years ago, he ensured Xavier could attend by having Dylan provide transportation and chaperon Xavier at his wedding!
Throughout the course of their mentoring relationship, Xavier has moved five times and shuffled between his mother’s and father’s homes. Yet despite this instability, he has remained positive, stayed out of trouble, engaged in school, and is on track to graduate in no small part due to Jonathan’s selfless and caring support. Xavier is planning to attend Piedmont Virginia Community College, with hopes to transfer to Virginia Tech after two years and pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
You may watch Jonathan’s award presentation and acceptance speech on Abundant Life’s YouTube channel here.
[Photo credit: Steven Casanova, courtesy of Virginia Mentoring Partnership]