BCM Media President Finds Life-Changing Role as Mentor

There are very few volunteer opportunities that qualify for the term “life-changing.” Brenda McKenna found such a role nearly 7 years ago as a mentor to an 8-year-old girl in Norwalk, Connecticut, and the consequences have been profound for the BCM Media President and her young charge.

McKenna became involved as a mentor while serving on the board of directors for the Human Services Council, a nonprofit agency that creates and fosters programs that educate, safeguard and empower people in Fairfield County, Connecticut. With two children of her own, McKenna waited until they left for college before she committed to the mentor program. She started mentoring Chay’La as a second-grader with hourly weekly meetings during the school year. A year later, Brenda also began mentoring her older brother, Lygend.

“She would always greet me with a huge smile on her face and was anxious to see what we were going to do,’’ Brenda says. “We would play games, do crafts, or even just have breakfast together. I never realized what an impact just an hour could make on someone and also how much it gave back to me.”

Over time, Chay’La blossomed into a more confident, motivated and determined young adult. Brenda helped with her with homework, encouraged her to seek out additional interests and watched her mature. When Brenda moved to Florida last year, it became harder to remain in contact, but they have continued to meet. Their lives are now forever intertwined.


“When I look back at the time I spent with Brenda, I learned and understood that it is better to be around people that make you feel good about yourself and comfortable with who you are,’’ Chay’La says. “It took me a while to realize it, but when she moved to Florida I felt the time we had together really gave me the confidence I needed. I understood that I wouldn’t have my weekly in person contact, but I am much more confident and feel good about who I am. I know she is always just a phone call or Facetime away."

Growing, Together

Lygend has also grown significantly as a person since Brenda became his mentor. “Brenda helps me stay on task, makes sure I have the things I need to be at my best in school, and is just there whenever I need her, which is really helpful,’’ Lygend says. “Over the years having Brenda around helped me tighten up certain things like managing my workloads and time to be efficient. It didn’t take me long to realize the impact she made in my life.”

January is National Mentor Month, and McKenna believes mentors can provide immeasurable impact.
“I never realized what an impact just an hour could make on someone and also how much it gave back to me,’’ McKenna says. “It was a chance to step back/decompress from the demands of work and technology, and immerse myself in genuine one-on-one
communications. It provided me with so much joy and gave me a refreshing perspective on my day/week ahead.”

Interested in mentoring, contact Jasmine Prezzie, Director of Human Services Council’s Norwalk Mentor Program at jprezzie@hscct.org or 203-354-1956.