Working the night shift can be grueling. At the end of hour 12, you’ll find most people with this schedule ready to fall into bed. Not Micah Hayman. You can find him patiently waiting the few hours it takes for school to start so he can meet with an adorably shy 9-year-old we’ll call “J”.
Two years ago Micah was matched with “J”, a student at Ridgeview Elementary, through the Milestone Mentoring program. Both of his parents are in prison, and when he and Micah first met, he had just been pulled from his home. Nationally, 7.3 million children have at least one incarcerated parent and statistics show that 70% of these children will end up imprisoned themselves. However, research has shown that having a mentor has a profound impact on the lives of these at-risk children.
Micah started meeting with “J” regularly, building trust and forming a relationship. Having a consistent, positive role model in his life, he started making progress. Teachers began to see changes in his schoolwork and behavior.
At the end of that school year, “J” was moved to a different school, but his teachers felt so strongly about the impact that Micah was having on this child that they asked if he could continue to see him at his new school. Although this meant being apart from the other mentors and working on his own, Micah didn’t hesitate to say yes.
In the two years they’ve been together, “J” has shown a significant improvement in his reading, math and even social skills. Micah has also been impacted by seeing the positive changes and progress that he’s has made over time.
Micah’s motivation for reaching students like “J” was cultivated in him at an early age by his parents. At the age of 13, he moved into his 16-year-old brother’s room because his parents decided to open their home to foster kids. He now has six adopted siblings and has seen firsthand the impact of pouring into kids so they know they’re loved and that they matter.
“To people who don’t have any experience with kids that want to get involved–just know all you need to do is talk about their day and go from there. Sometimes you help with school work, or play ball, but really just be present. They just want one-on-one time. Yes, you have to give up some things to make room for this, but there are great rewards like stability for the kids. My life has been blessed because I have seen the changes and progression. I assure him that I’m gonna be there every week and this shows him that he is seen and he matters. There’s nothing special that you do–it’s just building a relationship with them.”