Without a second thought, they jumped in the car and prepared to make the two-hour drive.
Sam Laguerre and Erick Scott were working when they received the call: Mary was about to graduate high school, and she wanted them both to be there… in person.
Marry Bonk met Sam and Erick 4 years earlier. After bouncing around between a number of foster care placements, she walked into their shelter with a short fuse and complicated past, convinced that these two youth care specialists wouldn’t take a personal interest in her life.
But within a few days of her arrival, they were helping her with her outbursts and teaching her coping skills. For three months, she turned to them when she was struggling emotionally or academically, and they patiently guided her through. They even attended her basketball games to show their support and Marry was quickly drawn in by their commitment.
When she left the Oasis Youth Shelter, they stayed in touch. Marry would reach out when she wanted to get advice and whenever she had good news to share. She was also known to call when she needed to cool off after a confrontation.
But a few months ago, she was calling Sam and Erick with a different request:
She wanted them to attend her graduation.
The men didn’t think twice, and they eagerly made plans to drive the two hours it took to attend the ceremony.
“When I saw her walk across that stage, it was like a proud father moment,” Erick said. He knew just how far Marry had come and what it took for her to accomplish this milestone.
“When we went up to her after the ceremony, she hugged us so hard we almost fell to the ground! Seeing the joy on her face was just incredible,” Sam recalled.
Years earlier, the youth care workers were talking Marry down from fights and discouraging her from running away. They guided her through panic attacks and helped her draw up detailed plans for her future. Incredibly proud of the progress Marry made, they have a message for other mentors:
“Support them with whatever they care about. If it’s a singing thing or spelling bee, football game–it doesn’t matter,” Erick says. “Because they’ve been let down so many times, and we need them to know that we are not going to be like the ones who’ve let them down.”
Sam added: “It’s also a matter of caring. If you show them you care, it means a lot because you never know if you’re the only one in their corner.”
Today, Marry now has plans to enroll in college. When she does, Sam and Erick know the calls will still come.
And they’ll be there– ready to answer.