Farrah Celler

My advice is for those considering becoming a mentor, but who are still on the fence: Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to show up and be real.

Date you became a mentor:
August, 2013

What inspired you to get involved with CPNYC?
I'd volunteered at CPNYC the previous year through New York Cares. I'd seen the forms for mentorship, and I guess the idea of getting involved on a deeper level appealed to me. I had some free time and mentoring seemed as good a way to use it as any. I'd done some work that was loosely based around mass incarceration during grad school, but CPNYC was coming at the issue from a novel angle (at least it seemed that way to me): working directly with the children it affects from a young age to help them cope with the emotional fallout, and to reduce the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.

What is it like to be a mentor?
Humbling, definitely humbling. And also incredibly rewarding. It sounds cliche, but I feel that I've benefitted and grown from this experience just as much as my mentee has. I've become close, not just with my mentee, but with her mother and sister as well. I've been lucky enough to witness and share in the radical transformations they've gone through these past few years, both as individuals and as a family.

Share your most memorable moment as a mentor.
It's hard to pick one; there have been so many. This past spring, her mother showed her and her sister a video of their father (who passed away) and her when the two of them were young, before the girls were born. Being there, seeing these amazing, resilient kids get to reconnect with some part of their past, and their father was probably the most bittersweet moment I've ever witnessed. I feel grateful to have become close enough with my mentee and her family to share in moments like that.

How has your mentee transformed in your time together?
Well, it's been three years since we’ve met, so I've seen her grow in all the ways that young people do. She's become a deeply thoughtful and compassionate person. It's a process, of course, but she's learning to deal with and talk about difficult feelings in a way that absolutely astounds me. I don't presume to take credit for this change, but I'm lucky enough to have been around as it’s taken place.

What advice would you offer to future mentors?
My advice is for those considering becoming a mentor, but who are still on the fence: Don't overthink it. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to show up and be real.