Mentoring program sparks a lifelong friendship

What started out as something of a social experience has resulted in a friendship that spanned almost half of Portia Lipsie’s 13-year-old life.

Lipsie was just 7½ years old when she was introduced to her mentor, Teri Drobnick. Neither knew how it would turn out.

Now they know. It has turned out beautifully, or as Lipsie says, “It has been very, very fun.”

“It has been an amazing experiment,” says Drobnick. “I’ve gotten more out of being a mentor than Portia has being the mentee.”

Lipsie won’t say it, but she might disagree on who has gotten more from the relationship. “I’ve had a lot of fun doing art projects and other things with Teri,” she says.

Both were a little apprehensive at the start of their relationship.

“I was nervous at times at first, but not completely scared,” says Lipsie.

“I hoped it would work, but I wasn’t sure,” says Drobnick. “Once we discovered we both like to do projects, I knew it would work, but I didn’t realize how rewarding it would be.”

But, summer brings an end to the pair’s mentor-mentee relationship. Lipsie is moving to San Diego to begin a new life with her mother and a new family. But it doesn’t mean an end to the friendship.

“I’m already making plans for things we can do when she comes to town to visit her father,” Drobnick says.

The highlight of their activities for the past four years has been Portia’s Lemonade Stand, where Lipsie sold lemonade, cookies and other goodies, along with Terri’s Sock’s, handmade dolls made of socks that are specially designed by Drobnick.

Proceeds from the first event went to the Petaluma Animal Shelter. The next year, Lipsie donated th proceeds to COTS. Last year, proceeds were sent to hurricane victims.

This year’s proceeds give back to the program dear to both Drobnick and Lipsie - the Petaluma Mentor Me program.

Helped by neighbors and friends who donated items and helped during the sale, the lemonade stand, which was really more a drink and dessert stand, raised $1,806.36.

Among those who helped make it a success were James Dole, Colette Dole, Joseph Ramirez, Curtis Maloney and the super crew of Matt, Kristin, Asa and Zeke Richmond.

“People were very generous,” Lipsie says. “We even had a bidding war.”

Drobnick says the hope is to use a portion of the funds to help set up a Portia Fund that would be used to provide financial assistance for youngsters to play sports and attend summer camps.

That plan is in keeping with what Lipsie hopes to do with her life.

“I would like to start an organization that would help kids in need or who have disabilities work with horses and learn how to ride,” she explains.

Drobnick and Lipsie are just two of the many adults and youth brought together through the Mentor Me program. The program was established in 2000 as a way to help adults volunteer to work one-on-one with children 5 to 17 years of age.

Does it work?

“It was very, very fun repeats Lipsie, who, like Drobnick, has made a friend for life.

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