Tyler Vendituoli is our Volunteer of the Month. We don’t always post our monthly volunteer recognition (although maybe we should start), but Tyler’s reflections are too great not to share & preserve.

“I’ve been mentoring Kadar since he was in Kindergarten and two weeks ago he began 5th grade. Every Thursday at 3:45 I leave work and pick Kadar up. The majority of the time I find him at King Street, sometimes at his house and more then once he’s been waiting outside the door of my work having come in search of me.

Kadar is a sharp kid and it took me the first year of being with him to understand why he needed or benefited by having a mentor. He has 10 siblings but isn’t used to having someone pay attention to him alone. We begin each week by me asking him what he’d like to do. I get the sense that no one else ever asks him what he’d like to do and have tried to instill in him that he can have control of the next few hours (within reason). This I’ve since learned is a tough question for all kids, and the answer was almost inevitably “Lets see a movie!” or “Can we go to PizzaPutt!?” Admittedly I now have an encyclopedic knowledge of most of the major super heroes and have worked out which games at PizzaPutt yield the most tickets for prizes.

When I met Kadar he was 6. I have very little experience with kids and didn’t know what a 6 year old can and can’t and should and shouldn’t do. I learned that taking him on a 3 mile walk to the beach resulted in me carrying him still dripping on my shoulders for the return trip. A car ride of more than 20 minutes and he would be slumped over asleep. Once, we were in a gas station and a crying fit ensued about a pack of gum. Not knowing what to do with a crying kid, I scooped him under my arm, took him into the parking lot and plunked him down – “What’s going on? You can’t act like that in public. Especially not over a pack of gum.” Instantly he stopped crying and his entire demeanor changed. He looked at me and said  “I know. I wanted to see what you’d do.”

I love asking him questions. “Where do chickens come from?” “What makes Thor’s hammer unique?” I once wrote down his answers to a series of questions and what he responded went everywhere from nonsensical to philosophically existentialist. While he didn’t understand why I was asking him all those questions or why I was writing down his answers – that piece of paper is one of favorite exchanges between he and I.

I love walking or driving or even being near Kadar’s house and having he, and his siblings and his neighbors all know my name and jump around HI TYLER!”