Transforming our community through mentoring
As a person with a passion for fostering meaningful connections, my journey through mentoring has been a testament to the transformative power of personal relationships.
I was introduced to Sioux 52 and the initiative of advocating for increased mentoring across our community during my time as an employee of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. Eager to contribute, I embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly and became involved in the Better Together program at Lutheran Social Services, which pairs individuals with senior citizens in the community.
My first mentee was Lou, a spirited 92-year-old lady who lived on her own in a mobile home. Our weekly meetings were more than just mentorship; they were moments of genuine connection and shared experiences. Our time together was spent sharing stories about our lives, discussing the latest happenings in the news, and just engaging in wholesome conversation. Lou didn’t have any family in the area, and our bond quickly became an anchor for her, just as much as it became a fulfilling experience for me.
Two distinct memories stand out from our time together. The first was sharing a Thanksgiving meal together every year as she didn’t have anyone else to spend the holiday with. She always brought out her fine china and dressed up. I could tell it was a really big deal for her. The second was when I introduced my newborn son to Lou…and every time I brought him over after that. Witnessing her eyes light up when she saw him was a great reminder of the impact simple gestures can have on someone’s life.
Become a mentor
January is National Mentoring Month. Consider starting 2024 by making a difference in our community!
Visit Sioux52.org to learn about the many opportunities that connect people in Sioux Falls and sign up to become a mentor.
Mentoring extends far beyond the realm of personal gratification; it’s a catalyst for building a thriving, interconnected community.
Unfortunately, Lou passed away a year and a half after our journey began. Visiting her in the hospital during her final days, she shared with me that our weekly encounters were some of the highlights of her life. In that moment, the realization struck me—mentoring isn’t just about sharing knowledge; it’s about the connection and impact it can foster.
Transitioning from my role at the Chamber, I started a new venture, founding SoDak Stays, a business specializing in managing short-term rentals. Lou’s influence on my entrepreneurial journey cannot be overstated. Her life and our time together underscored the significance of personal connections, empathy, and understanding individual needs—pillars that now define the mission of my business.
Mentoring, I believe, is a cornerstone for professionals in the business community. It equips us with essential skills—active listening, effective communication, and adaptability—all crucial for fostering robust client relationships and providing exceptional service.
The experience with Lou taught me that mentoring extends far beyond the realm of personal gratification; it’s a catalyst for building a thriving, interconnected community. It’s an opportunity for seasoned professionals to guide and uplift emerging talents, contributing to the growth of a supportive business ecosystem.
As I continue on my entrepreneurial journey, I am committed to advocating for the power of mentoring. Lou’s legacy serves as a constant reminder of the profound impact one can make through genuine connections and mentorship. In a world where success often measures in figures and milestones, let us not overlook the immeasurable value of human connection, empathy and the enduring impact of being a mentor.
Kayla is the co-founder of SoDak Stays, and previously served as the Young Professionals Network Manager for the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. A Dordt University graduate, she enjoys outdoor activities with her husband Albert and their two children while continually pursuing new skills.