by Trillium Swanson
Jodi Luft and Phaedra Osborne have been a mentoring match through the Funhouse Commons for more than 10 years.
Their relationship has thrived through the changes which come with adolescence, and today is a source of strength for 16 year-old Phaedra. Phaedra, who was matched with Jodi at age 6, shares their story of lasting friendship and common bonds. Jodi and Phaedra became officially matched when Phaedra was in first grade.
“She had dogs, and we’d go on hikes. For the first few years, it centered around helping out in her barn and learning the basics,” Phaedra said.
Jodi also taught her how to ride horses.
“But honestly, you can spend hours in a barn, without even touching a horse,” Phaedra said.
The year after they were matched, Jodi invited Phaedra on a spring trip to her family farm in Florence, Oregon. She has joined Jodi and her family on that trip almost every year since.
“Going on those trips has been super influential. It taught me a lot about social skills, spending time with and adapting to another family. And it’s given me a lot of fond memories – that farm is so beautiful,” said Phaedra.
As she grew, Phaedra and Jodi’s relationship changed. Over time, it became a bi-weekly or weekly get together where they would make popcorn and lemonade and just hang out. Now that Phaedra is in high school, they see each other about once a month.
“It’s gone from a mentor-mentee relationship and become more of a friendship. We’ve gradually been able to talk more and more as equals. It’s more like friends sharing experiences,” explained Phaedra.
This relationship has spanned most of Phaedra’s life, and she acknowledges the ways in which she’s been shaped by it.
“Jodi’s taught me a lot about people. Handling animals, in the same way, is like handling people. You have to be ready for a reaction, and be compassionate and gentle with them,” she said. “I happened to be matched with someone who was very morally strong, and she taught me those morals, and as I became older, they rubbed off on me.”
Phaedra also highlighted the importance of having someone outside of her home and school life to talk with.
“Sometimes talking with kids your own age is easy, but sometimes it’s hard,” she said. “It’s really nice to have that third party that you always have if you need them. It’s good to have someone between parent and friend. That is where the mentor lies.”
Over the years, Phaedra has gained a lot from her relationship with Jodi, but she pointed out that mentoring makes an impact on the mentor, as well.
“It’s a really amazing experience for everyone. All of my siblings have been in the mentoring program, and they’ve all had positive experiences with it. The mentors have all gotten a lot from it too. I think on both sides it’s a really enriching experience,” she said.