DSABC Mentor Celebrates 30 Years of Service
Kathi Barese has been mentoring Danbury Public School students for 30 years. When she first learned about the Danbury Student and Business Connection (DSABC) mentor program from a fellow coworker and mentor, she knew she wanted to participate.
Barese shared that she is the kind of person who looks to help others, especially younger people. “Whatever experience you can share with somebody, will help them to think differently or open their mind a little,” said Barese.
Barese’s passion and commitment to helping others have shaped her into a role model for students as a mentor and substitute teacher at Henry Abbott Technical High School. Past mentees have described her as kind, helpful, patient, encouraging and easy to talk to.
“Kathi embodies the DSABC mentoring program. Her commitment to volunteerism, dedication to the students and unwavering support of our organization is truly remarkable. For 30 years, she has generously given her time and offered guidance to her mentees who were fortunate to know her," said Ellen Meyst, Executive Director of DSABC.
During her 30 years in the program, Barese has mentored eight students, ranging from elementary to high school grade levels. She began her journey at Shelter Rock Elementary School where she mentored three students and was eventually matched with students at Broadview Middle School. Most recently, Barese has been mentoring at the high school level, helping young girls navigate the complex years of adolescent development.
“As somebody who likes to empower women, I liked the idea of working with high school girls,” said Barese.
During sessions, Barese spends time doing what mentees want, whether that be just sitting and talking, sharing experiences, or playing a game. She recalls one session in particular in which she noticed just how happy her mentee was to see her and play basketball with him when she arrived. “I spent eight hours at work, but the forty minutes I spent with this kid was the best part of my day,” Barese said.
Establishing connections with mentees can be challenging at times. “You always wonder if you are making a difference, but just being there to listen makes all the difference,” said Barese. In developing the one-on-one relationship that mentorship provides, Barese says she has learned a lot from her mentees. “They teach you how to be more thoughtful about yourself.”
Barese’s favorite aspect of mentoring is making a connection with somebody and that idea of sharing your lives in some way. She has made long-term connections and friendships with a few of her mentees who have graduated. She communicates with them regularly, continuing to listen and provide advice, and is even a godmother to one of her mentee’s children.
For those who are interested in mentoring, Barese says, “Everyone has something to offer. If you make the time, you will find that time to be so rewarding.”