Maribeth & Gracie — a mentoring win-win

When Maribeth retired from her career as an elementary school teacher, she knew one thing for certain: she wanted to have regular contact with children as part of her life. With her own children and grandchildren living hours away, Maribeth signed up to be a Youth First mentor. That’s when she met Gracie, who at the time was six years old. “She was a little girl back then,” Maribeth says. “Now she’s driving!”

Over nine years as a mentor pair, Maribeth and Gracie have experienced all sorts of fun times together. They’ve hiked the trails on Hunger Mountain and Stowe Pinnacle. Gracie has improved her swimming skills, and even conquered the highest dive platform at the Montpelier pool. What was Gracie’s favorite adventure? “Going on the ferry across Lake Champlain,” Gracie says. “On the other side, they had an ice cream shop with all sorts of weird flavors!”

Maribeth and Gracie have also proven that when it comes to mentoring, the benefits are mutual. Gracie loves riding horses, and she’s taught Maribeth a lot about their care and unique personalities. And when Maribeth sustained an injury that left her temporarily housebound, Gracie stepped up, with a little help from her dad. He drove Gracie to Maribeth’s house so they could spend time together.

The support Gracie gave to Maribeth played an important role in her recovery. And Maribeth helps Gracie navigate tough times, too. “The drama gets to me when I am having a bad day,” Gracie says. “And I will come to Marybeth and I’ll be like ‘Oh I am so mad!’ And we’ll talk it out. It just makes me feel better that I have someone else that I can talk to.”

Recently, Gracie has taken her interest in mentoring up a notch by becoming an ambassador for Mentor Vermont. “People are reaching out to me and asking me to do an interview or speak in front of groups,” Gracie says. “I think it can be a little bit of a different look for the mentoring program.”

And Maribeth stresses that no matter what your interests, mentoring can fit into your life. It’s so open ended,” she says. “We can decide if we want to be in my kitchen cooking or if we want to go to ECHO Museum or walk in the woods. We can chat on the phone or go to Rabble Rouser and have a cup of hot chocolate. It’s such a perfect win-win.”