Joining The Mayfly Project (TMP) was an absolute no brainer for me. After being wrapped up in work the last four years a good friend mentioned mentoring for the Pikes Peak chapter, and there was zero hesitation. Right away I said yes! I wasn’t exactly sure what mentoring entailed or how much time I would need to take off work, but I’ve known about what TMP provided for foster kids since the day I picked up a fly rod; so no matter what, my answer would be a heavy yes.
This decision coming so quickly comes from two separate reasons that have meshed together for me over my life.
Foster care and fly fishing.
Foster care came first of course.
With four children and being a single mom, my biological mother found comfort in many different things in life. Each of them included anything other than her children. I was put in foster care due to years of neglect, abuse, drug, and alcohol addiction. Initially, getting put in the system I remember having the deepest breath of my life; thinking that finally, the world would get better for me.
Unfortunately, although my siblings, social worker, and foster parents and foster brothers and sisters tried their hardest. I still felt lost.
Every single day in the system felt uneasy.
Not sure if by the end of the day I would be staying at the very foster home I woke up in or if I would be taken to another which results in a new school, new siblings, and a traveling trash bag of my most valuable things.
I often felt terribly embarrassed for constantly being pulled out of class to talk to the counselor, my social worker, group meetings, going to court, or supervised visitation with the very person I was determined unfit to be with.
Feeling thankful and ashamed at the same time was always the oddest feeling in the world.
It was a roller coaster.
Meeting my biological father at 14 was a monumental moment for me. Meeting him was what brought me to Colorado, and he was who taught me the love of the great outdoors after taking me fishing for the first time.
Year after year, foster family after the next, state to state, even after finding my dad, I always searched for something to set my soul at ease. I needed something I felt secure in.
I needed to find Home.
After everything I went through, continuing to struggle to find myself with many trials and tribulations, I picked up a fly rod.
Finding that peace on the river that totally disconnects you from real life and the chaos that comes with it was one of the most refreshing things I have ever felt in my life. I remember one day on the river looking around and having that same deep breath I did when I was a child; again, thinking that finally, the world would get better for me. And from that moment on it has. No amount of therapy in my life has been able to compete with the therapy I gain on the river.
The river is where I finally found Home.
It always made me think back to if I was able to find this escape as a child trucking through an unknown, uneasy, and scary situation. Looking back, if I was able to find this serenity while growing in foster care, I honestly think I could have breathed a little deeper and smiled a little bigger.
This is where TMP provides exactly what any foster child needs.
By teaching these kids to fly fish they are able to get outside, understand the love of the great outdoors, and being taught conservation gives them something else to focus on, even if it’s just for that day.
Foster kids wake up every day not knowing what’s next, dealing with so many emotions that they may not understand for years to come and wishing that life was simpler. Every kid has a different story and situation and having a mentor there to be a shoulder to lean on, and take their worries away can create a cherished bond; again, even just a day at a time. By taking these kids out and giving them one on one mentorship, TMP is not only providing a fun new hobby, but stability, and to be quite honest, therapy.
The mentorship with these kids may be something that they could never get from their foster family or social workers. Although it may sound dramatic, coming from the same situation, it could be life-changing.
In the fragile time that most of these kids are in, any positive, fun-filled, and carefree moment is going to be the highlight of not only their day but years to come.