Eat a Meal, Make a Difference: Become a Lunch Buddy

In honor of National Mentoring Month, we’re featuring one of the city’s fun and meaningful mentoring opportunities: Lunch Buddies at Grizzlies Prep. Read on, and get involved this semester!

What does it take to be a mentor?

It could be as simple as sitting down to lunch with a couple of kids once a week. And that’s exactly what happens at Grizzlies Prep: The Lunch Buddies program invites community members to join a pair of students once a week over the lunch hour to eat, talk, and engage with each other. The school works carefully to match each mentor with two students with the hope that these individuals will build lasting, meaningful relationships. The Lunch Buddies program not only introduces the students at Grizzlies Prep to compelling role models but also provides the Lunch Buddies themselves with gratifying experiences with the students. Ben Joyce, a Web Developer at AutoZone, has been a Lunch Buddy at Grizzlies Prep for over 3 years. He says that “it’s refreshing to hear about their successes and coach them through their failures. It’s incredibly rewarding for them to be so excited to share these experiences with me.”

A lot of Lunch Buddies even stick around for several years, watching their mentee(s) grow up right before their eyes. Brandon Corley, Director of Sales & Marketing at PCA Technologies, has been a Lunch Buddy for 2 years and has loved his experience thus far:

“I know this sounds cheesy but I’m literally watching him grow into a young man in front of me…and, as a father of a 6 month old (my first) this has been really fun to watch. It’s almost a preview of what I have to look forward to with my own son.”

Mentoring as a Lunch Buddy can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only do statistics suggest that mentoring can be an extremely worthwhile way of giving back to your community, but it can also be a highly personal experience that leads to warm, lasting relationships between mentors and mentees. Casey Beck, Category Manager at AutoZone, recently shared a touching experience she had as a Lunch Buddy:

“My scholar had basketball tryouts one night. I told him that I believed in him, and I knew he would do a great job. He asked if I really meant that. I told him that by coming to see him every week, I hope that reminds him that I believe in him. He told me that no one had ever told him that they believed in him. I told him that whether or not someone has ever said it, many people around him also believe in him. It was a very impactful moment for both of us.”

Grizzlies Prep is an all-boys college preparatory school in the heart of downtown Memphis. As a public, tuition-free charter school, they receive funding from local, state, and federal sources. The school also receives substantial support from the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation. The reason it’s an all-boys school is that research shows only 4% of kids in the city of Memphis are ready for college when they leave high school, and 75% of those are girls. That means that only 1% of Memphis boys are college-ready when they graduate. Thus, Grizzlies Prep was created with the belief that an all-male middle school environment would promote academic achievement and social development.

The current Lunch Buddy program has been so successful that there are at least 40 more boys on a waitlist for a Lunch Buddy. That means we need even more community members who are interested in mentoring to sign up for the Lunch Buddies program—and that could be you! 

Grizzlies Prep will be hosting lunch and Info Sessions for anyone interested in mentoring to learn more about becoming a Lunch Buddy. If you are available to attend on any of the following dates, please RSVP now. You are not obligated to become a Lunch Buddy by attending.

  • Wednesday, Jan 16th, 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
  • Wednesday, Jan 30th 11:30 am-12:30 pm
  • Thursday, Feb 14th 12:00 pm-1:00 pm
  • Thursday, Feb 28th 12:00 pm-1:00 pm

Would you or someone you know be available to have lunch with two students once a week in downtown Memphis? If you’re interested in learning more, click here to sign up for an info session.

Follow Grizzlies Prep on their Twitter feed, Facebook page, and their Instagram feed for updates.

#NationalMentoringMonth  // #MemphisMentors // #Choose901

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