“We must become less so we can be filled with something greater” says Connie Harmotto, referencing John 3:30. Connie is thinking of her experience as a mentor with Aliquippa Impact. She began school-based mentoring in 2012 and then transitioned to one-on-one mentoring in 2013.
Connie spends time with her mentee once a week. She says, “[My husband and I] have an opportunity to be friends with her. My husband looks forward to her visits and they shoot basketball in the driveway while I am finishing dinner. We do simple things together – making dinner, taking the dog for a walk.
I don’t expect anything and neither does she. Sometimes we just sit together and don’t say anything. We’re comfortable with each other.”
The relationship has impacted both mentee and mentor. Both have gained a friend and both have grown in their faith. According to Connie, their relationship has introduced her mentee to a Christian lifestyle. But not only is her mentee’s faith becoming stronger, so is Connie’s. She says, “Having a relationship with this little girl has been a blessing to me. It totally takes the focus off myself and allows me to focus on someone else. Learning about a different culture and generation has taught me a lot. It has made me look at things a lot differently in life and in my Christian walk.”
Connie was skeptical of Aliquippa before becoming a mentor. She says, “What I imagined before becoming involved in Aliquippa was that there were broken families and homes because inside the families they didn’t care about each other. I imagined that they were in control of their situation completely and that they should be able to go find work and get themselves out of the situation they are in. What I found and what God opened my eyes to after I started mentoring was that the moms love their children and they want opportunities for their kids, but they are limited. That is where Aliquippa Impact comes in providing those opportunities for their kids with the mentoring and with the cohorts.”
Connie sees the hope that all who work with AI bring to families. She says not every child is born into a situation with plentiful opportunities for growth. When kids are provided with such opportunities, they respond enthusiastically. She recalls, “I remember kids stopping by the mentoring room at the elementary school asking if they got a mentor yet. They are excited; they want friendships and people caring for them.”
Serving as a mentor has changed the way Connie sees the city of Aliquippa and given her an opportunity share God’s love. Connie says, “I am thankful that AI gives me an opportunity to serve in a way that has always been on my heart.”