Daniel’s Journey with Two Mentors

Jan 24, 2019

Daniel faced the overwhelming task of choosing a career after high school graduation. He was one of many students in the United States representing the first in their family to graduate high school. While working a job and passing his tests, this decision stayed prominently on his mind. However, he was not alone in this process.

At his side have been his supportive family and his two Casa mentors, Jessica and Richard. Arriving to this point was one of many milestones in their journey together.

Daniel’s mentorship began with Jessica nine years ago, she reflects that, “We had never met each other. Then we met and talked a little bit – and it was not awkward!”

She continues, “Then we got to know each other. We would go to the library and read, then go play football or play basketball. As he got older, school became more important.”

“It’s been cool [to see him] grow in his confidence. I’ve appreciated how kind he is, and his sense of humor, especially when I’ve had bad days,” says Jessica. “I’ve seen him grow as a friend too. You talk about different things when you’re 18 than when you’re 8.”

Casa Chirilagua’s mentoring program goal is for two lives to be transformed through one mentorship. However, in their case, it has brought transformation to many more than that.

When Jessica married Richard, he joined her by becoming an official mentor to Daniel as well. Their relationship grew even further. Richard recalls the bridge building that occurred between his family and Daniel, “My family is Filipino, and it becomes even more special when other people come to our gatherings. For my family, it has caused them to expand their mind when it comes to our [immediate] family dynamic.”

He then reflects on the bridges they’ve built with Daniel’s family, “[They] are like my family. It’s powerful to me that we are not blood but they will always be my family.”

Later, Daniel saw how Jessica and Richard’s relationship with his mother Julisa developed. Their bond was strengthened as the couple sat with Daniel and Julisa to speak about the high schooler’s options after graduation.

Julisa ultimately wanted him to pick a career path that made Daniel feel confident. After thorough guidance from Jessica and Richard, Daniel felt it was the right decision to enter an apprenticeship program after high school. Through their coaching, Daniel felt a giant weight lifted off his shoulders as he faced this new challenge with more clarity.

Life without his mentors would be different for Daniel. He says, “I feel like [my life] would be harder, I probably wouldn’t be doing good in school, probably would have went down a bad track.”

He goes on to depict a challenging time was when, “[I was] studying for a test late at night. Like, I didn’t want to – I was tired. But we still did it and passed the test.”

As they close their final year in the Mentoring Program, the couple mention their relationship with Daniel and his family won’t end. Instead, it is only the beginning of a new stage in his young adult life.

With a new baby boy in Jessica and Richard’s life, she exclaims, “When Daniel is older, he will mentor our son!”

January is National #MentoringMonth. To learn more about becoming a mentor with Casa Chirilagua, visit our mentoring page!

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.