Why Mentorship Matters- From Building Confidence in SOS to Starting a Business
SOS Outreach is dedicated to supporting young people in Park City and helping them succeed, no matter the barriers that exist. By using mountain sports as the catalyst, SOS engages youth in a progressive multi-year curriculum that introduces them to core values, develops leadership skills, cultivates community, and builds resilience. What ties all of this together are the adult mentors who volunteer their time, dedicate their wisdom, and share their passion for the mountains with young people in SOS.
“When I met Eddie, my perspective on mentorship totally changed. I felt that Eddie was an actual mentor, not only in skiing but in life,”
In partnership with Vail Resorts and Epic Promise, over 445 local Park City and Salt Lake City youth are able to experience the freedom of the mountains with their mentors and build skills for life at PCMR.“We are honored to be able to provide skiing and riding access at Park City Mountain for SOS mentors and mentees,” says Mike Goar, Park City Mountain COO, “it’s incredible that our mountain serves as a supportive space for young people in our community to learn invaluable life skills and build lasting relationships.”
Every mentor/mentee relationship is special in its own right, but the relationship that exists between Eduardo (Eddie) Regueira and Jeffery Payan, mentor and mentee respectively, epitomizes the power of having a positive role model in one’s life.
Eddie and Jeffery first met through SOS in the winter of 2018 at Park City Mountain Resort. Eddie who was relatively new to the area was looking for a way to get involved in the community in a meaningful capacity, “I was hoping that I could volunteer working with kids in some sort of format whether it was instructing, getting kids out on the mountain, or really anything to do with kids and skis,” says Eddie, “I did some research and SOS Outreach immediately stood out…” SOS is unique in that in addition to skiing, the SOS program provides an intentionally designed curriculum and carefully pairs mentors and mentees at a 1:4 ratio. This combination of curriculum and placing mentors and mentees in a positive peer group allows SOS to engage young people in a much more meaningful capacity beyond simply teaching them to ski or snowboard.
In his first season with SOS, Eddie was paired up with a small group of skiers who were in their first year of the mentor program – and in that group was 13-year-old, Jeffery. Upon meeting, a connection clicked almost instantaneously. “When I met Eddie, my perspective on mentorship totally changed. I felt that Eddie was an actual mentor, not only in skiing but in life,” says Jeffery, “He helped me grow a ton and was really a mentor across all genres of my life”.
One of the unique aspects across mentor/mentee relationships is that the power dynamics of age difference tend to become much more fluid than in relationships with teachers or parents. “When I grew up, I always thought that adults were to be respected and never questioned,” remembers Jeffery, “Eddie showed me that, yes, respect is important, but Eddie also showed me that in our relationship it was ok to ask questions and think critically because it was an opportunity to learn”.
“I’ve always thought about mentoring as a way of instilling confidence. I felt like my duty was really to be authentic… and let the dynamic within the group be such that everyone could be themselves and be authentic”
Eddie agrees and as such, he made sure to create a culture among his group where everyone felt comfortable, supported, and able to be open. “I’ve always thought about mentoring as a way of instilling confidence. I felt like my duty was really to be authentic… and let the dynamic within the group be such that everyone could be themselves and be authentic” says Eddie, “I wanted to be as much as part of the mentee group in terms of hanging out and joking around, while also providing a little bit of leadership and guidance for all the mentees”. Eddie’s perspective was not only intuitive but in line with best practices in the mentoring field.
Thanks to Eddie’s thoughtfulness towards mentoring, the mentees in his group were all able to progress both on and off the snow. In particular, Jeffery made huge strides, “The first winter we were in the program together” reflects Eddie, “Jeffery was a lot more shy, but always extremely helpful. I saw this industriousness in him from the start. Not to be cliche, but over the years, he just totally blossomed, whether it was on the slopes or in community service projects. Each year [in SOS], there was more and more responsibility. Seeing him take a leadership role on the mountain among his group was simply incredible”.
Jeffery credits much of his personal growth to his relationship with Eddie, “I don’t want to toot his horn too much…” jokes Jeffery, “but Eddie really inspired a ton of confidence in me.”
“I never really felt like I had anyone cheering me on for the things I did,” continues Jeffery, “and as a result, I never gave myself time to feel good and celebrate my accomplishments, but Eddie helped shift that perspective. I still remember the day he told me ‘wow that’s really impressive’ after I had completed a goal and I was just so unbelievably happy, because I’d pretty much never heard that from anybody before. It just made me so confident and happy, it honestly really did change my life. The past four years since he’s told me that have really been so different than they would’ve been”.
Now in his final year of high school and SOS, Jeffery has embarked on a project that he wouldn’t have dreamed to be possible only a few years ago. “I used to have pretty simplistic goals, like I want to go to college, get a good job, etcetera,” says Jeffery, “but the more I heard from Eddie, the more I understood that my meaning in life was much larger than just getting a college degree, and so I should set my goals accordingly”. Jeffery did just that and in a short time, he launched his own business called Loneliest Man on Earth.
Loneliest Man on Earth, at face value, is a clothing brand. However, take a look at the words printed on the clothes and it quickly becomes apparent that this business is about more than just apparel. Shirts and sweatshirts have phrases printed on them like “Are you doing ok?”, “I’ve been thinking about you” and “reach out”. At its core, Loneliest Man on Earth exists to raise awareness and tackle stigmas surrounding mental health.
“I was thinking about my own mental health situation and how so many of my friends were also struggling and how little help was being presented to any of us- from our community, our school system, or really anything that supported our development” reflects Jeffery, “I started to do some research and the more I did, I felt kind of sickened by what I found. Suicide had taken the second spot as a cause of death among middle schoolers, which is huge. We’re talking about the biggest epidemic mentally that we’ve ever seen and we’re treating it like something we can just get rid of. You know like ‘oh just feel better, just make yourself feel better, just deal with it. How many times have we ever told that to somebody battling cancer?”
Inspired by his conversations with Eddie, Jeffery decided to take action. “I realized there needed to be an actual change. And if you want to see change in the world, you have to start it. If you sit around, nothing ever happens and nothing will ever happen.” says Jeffery.
It’s only been about four months since the company began selling clothes, but according to Jeffrey, the company is already profitable and beginning to grow. “The amount of growth and maturity it takes to start something like [Loneliest Man on Earth],” says Eddie, “and to open up with your experiences because you’re thinking it’s not only going to help you, but help others, is just mesmerizing to see and especially to think back from where [Jeffery] was when we first met”.
Ultimately, it wasn’t SOS that made Jeffery start his business. However, through SOS, a framework was provided so that Jeffery could feel equipped to pursue any opportunity that he was passionate about. “I’m super grateful for all the support I’ve received through SOS,” says Jeffery, “I’ve built great relationships with great people, people who I would now consider family. But, I think what I gained the most is confidence. I feel like I was lost for a while, but the confidence that SOS gave me is the reason I can run a business. Without that courage, I feel like I would just crumble. SOS gave me the confidence that I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else.”
“I think that Jeffery embodies exactly what the whole idea behind the SOS program is,” adds Eddie, “it’s incredibly refreshing to hear that these conversations that Jeffery and I have had about finding purpose and utilizing skills you’re learning in school and SOS are being used to do something much bigger than yourself. Being able to see the impact that SOS has had on Jeffery is awesome. In seeing that impact, it makes me feel that the whole purpose behind the program is truly just a good thing”
At the end of the day, it’s incredible to think that what started with mountain access through Epic Promise at Park City Mountain ultimately transpired into something so much greater than anyone could have imagined. And even more so, the relationship that has been facilitated through SOS and cultivated between Jeffery and Eduardo is something uniquely special and powerful, “I feel like my relationship with Eddie has built into an actual friendship” says Jeffery, “I’m always excited to talk to him. It was cool because our conversations were just conversations that I’d have with a friend despite the age difference. I remember crying with laughter with him. I just have so many good memories. It was a relationship that I’ve never had before. It was special and it still is special to me. He’ll always be someone important in my life and I’m excited to see where our relationship heads in the future”
Together we can continue to support meaningful mentor/mentee relationships like Jeffery and Eddie’s. If the power of mentorship resonates with you, make a donation today!