Linda Rozo, Mentor of the Year 2017

Girls’ Nite Out Event | Linda Rozo’s Remarks

When I was first asked if I’d be open to sharing at tonight‘s event, my initial thought was… ‘Heck no.’

You see, speaking in front of crowds makes me (like many others) PRETTY nervous. But as I thought about it a little more and with the help of a couple friends, I came to realize… being up here isn’t about me.

It’s about Alendra and the girls she represents. It’s about sharing how one young lady, can truly change your life. So, if it’s okay with you all I’d love to give you a glimpse into our story.

We started out as neighbors about four years ago. She lived right up the street from me, along with her family. Oftentimes neighbor kids and I would play basketball outside my house. One day, Alendra was one of the kids that came by to play! We got to talking and before she went back home I told her about the Better Together Basketball program that I was a part of and invited her to join. By the next season I had the privilege of becoming not only her neighbor but her coach.

It was during our second season together though that she had gotten into a little trouble, requiring her to make some different decisions. And that’s where Girls Inc. came in. They gave Alendra the opportunity to ask someone in her life to be her mentor. Someone she knew, someone she trusted. And of all people, she chose me. It still blows me away thinking about this. As you can see by me standing here, I said, ‘Yes!’. That was about two years ago.

Since then I’ve had the opportunity of spending time with this incredible young lady, who I now consider family. We hang out during the week together, we go on trips together, we run errands together, we serve together, we lead together – we truly do life together. We’ve been through a lot together and in it we’ve learned from each other.

I was actually talking to her last night about this event and asked her if there was anything she wanted me to share with you all. And she said to me, ‘Yes! Tell them that you have REALLY changed my life Coach Linda.’

While that filled my heart more than she’ll ever know, I’d say the reverse is just as true, ‘Alendra has REALLY changed my life.’

If there’s one thing I’ve learned along the way, it’s that in order to bring change we must be willing to be changed.

So, I encourage you- open yourself up to being changed. Alendra modeled this for me when she asked me to be her mentor. She let me into her life fully and made it easy for me to let her into mine fully. Allow a young person into your life, learn from them, listen to them, love and care for them, be present with them, and I guarantee your life will not look the same because of them. And you will be able to say… they have REALLY changed your life.