Don Niemeyer wanted to do something to help other people. He’d been mentoring a boy for a couple of years. The boy’s father lived out of state and his mother struggled with work and school. “We’d meet in the library after I’d get off work; sometimes we’d go out to eat or do other things he was interested in.”
But the boy outgrew the program; and Don retired.
Don was still interested in helping other people. His previous experience helped him realize he had something to offer. And he had more time.
Don became an OASIS Intergenerational Tutor. Now in his sixth year as a tutor Don says, “so many kids need our help.” He’s enjoyed spending time with each of his students. He says tutors adjust what they do or how they do it depending on what the child needs from them.
“OASIS provides excellent training and materials,” says Don. “But we give them our attention. When I meet with my student, we usually spend some time talking about what we did over the weekend. We pick out books from the library.” One of Don’s tools is a game he calls “champ and chump”.
“I take a word, say ‘Halloween’, and we see how many words we can each come up with the letters in the word,” describes Don. “Generally the kids come up with more words than me. I’ve come out ahead a couple of times, maybe just enough. After all, it’s a good way to build self-esteem.”
“I think some tutors worry if they are accomplishing enough with their students. But I don’t think we’re striving for them to become a genius. We’re spending our time with them and giving them our attention. That’s what makes the difference.”
But there’s another skill Don brings to the tutoring program.
“I recently recruited a new tutor, my cousin’s wife,” adds Don. “She also felt the tug to give something back, to help others.”
“And now she is working with two students!”