John Devlin saw a story in the paper six years ago about a new mentorship program in Spalding County.
“It sounded so simple,” Devlin said.
The Griffin-Spalding County Mentor Program had just launched and they were looking for volunteers to mentor in the local schools. Volunteers would commit to meet with a student for one hour a week for one school year.
Devlin said he told his wife at the time, “I could do that left-handed. I’ve got plenty of time.”
Devlin, who was and still is a bus driver, said he knew exactly the student he wanted to mentor. He added that the program doesn’t normally
allow mentors to select students, but this was a special case.
The student Devlin wished to mentor was a rider on his bus and Devlin said that they didn’t get along. He said the kid was a misfit and he asked the program if he could mentor this student.
Devlin mentored the student for four years, beginning when the student was in sixth grade and staying with him through the student’s freshman year in high school.
“It made me feel so good,” Devlin said. “He would invite me to come watch his class performances.”
Devlin invited the student and the student’s family to his home for a cookout, and he even took him to a few Braves games.
Devlin’s own father died when he was 2-years old and he said that neighbors were his role models. One neighbor would take him fishing and another took him to baseball games. Now, he treats the students he mentors to similar outings.
After the student completed his freshman year, Devlin said there was less time for mentoring, but the student and Devlin stay in touch through social media.
But that wasn’t the end of Devlin’s work as a mentor. He soon took on another student.
As he did with his first mentee, Devlin finds ways to enrich this student’s life. Devlin is teaching the mentee and his younger sister to play golf. He takes them to play at least once a week in the summer.
He said his mentee, “can outdrive me almost every time” and that his sister can outdrive him on occasion.
He said the kids’ successes are rewarding to him.
“It’s just like I won the World Series. I’m just so happy,” he said.
He added, “doing things with those kids makes me feel so — I have a decent vocabulary, but it’s hard to find the word I want. I’ve got a lot more energy. It’s the same on the bus.”
firstname.lastname@example.org, Griffin Daily News Staff Writer. Jan.19,2019