He had us at amalgamation!

Receiving notes from our kids is a treasure we hold close. Back in April, Aubrey Pressley spoke at our annual Mentoring Gala and the whole crowd was blown away! He had us at amalgamation… uniting a community to become more inspired about what we do and how we spend our time. Below is his speech about his mentor Joe Godfrey. Aubrey enrolled in college at UNG recently, with his mentor by his side.

Aubrey Pressley’s speech at the Mentoring Gala on April 18, 2019.

To me, my mentor Joe Godfrey is an amalgamation of all those things a teen needs. A distinct list of all those things that make a great person a cohesive whole. They need to have an ear that will listen, even when the subject gets too rough to hear. They need a mouth that will provide comfort no matter the situation. It doesn't matter if that's a dumb joke or meaningful advice. This person speaks, and when they get done you feel better, more complete, or headed in a direction you want to be in. Lastly, they need a heart. A heart that is in all the right places whether you learn that during or after the fact. And that heart needs room to accommodate the goofy abnormal that is you and your own unique thought process. I can safely say that Joe Godfrey is all those things. He's the best mentor anyone can have, the best friend everyone would want, and the father figure I desperately needed when I had no one else. So to fully say what Joe means to me, and this mentor program as a whole, I can say it's a culmination. A culmination of all those things that make people great. The things that give you hope when you look at the stars and are thankful to be alive on this earth. 

That's what I originally wrote to honor Joe, and every word holds true. But I wanted to say more because in the 5 years or so that I've known Joe he's changed my life more than some people I've known for 18 years. I remember when this crazy friendship first started I didn't want it. Part of me didn't like it. The first time I met Joe, he tried to show me magic tricks. I just remember this goofy, bubbly guy showing up, and I was awkward and quiet. I don't know when we clicked, but we did. Maybe it's when we started making fun of each other jokingly or started trying new restaurants just out of curiosity. It was a big connection, and we have actually been up here before together. A couple of years ago I stood up here with Joe, and we made a bunch of jokes. The gist of it all was that Joe was the greatest guy in the world. In this joke, he could ride sharks, climb mountains with no effort, and other stuff. The attributes of a modern-day superhero. And we joke with each other a lot so that's all that was, but I don't think anyone has ever really talked about how much a hero Joe Godfrey is. He doesn't fly. Sometimes he gets winded running short distances or going uphill. He can't fish let alone ride a shark. The only thing he can climb is a ladder because he's your basic suburban dad. However, he's my hero just the same. Just like Spider-Man in the comics, I hold dear or Iron Man on the movie screens.

I'll highlight just a few moments to prove this. Once or twice my family couldn't afford groceries that month and when I told Joe his first instinct was to buy some for us. Once when our washer broke, he did his best to help us find a cheap one we could afford. When our water pump gave out for like the millionth time, he got a favor from a friend to help us. In middle school when I couldn't afford to go on a field trip to Washington D.C. Joe helped my grandma pay because he really wanted me to see it. I met one of my best friends on that trip.

Later in my freshman year of high school, he would do a similar thing in helping me get to Disney. And I know what some may be thinking, you're describing financial things. Not every mentor can help with money, but it goes beyond that. A couple of years ago I could barely talk to people at social events. I could barely talk to Joe. I had my close friends nobody else. Joe offered me a chance to go on a camping trip. When I said no Joe was determined to still pick me up because he wanted me to get out of my comfort zone. He'd want me to tag along on family things because he wanted me to be happy. To experience something new. Then he took me up to see his family every year, who are in the audience today. My family was never traditional as much as we wanted to be. I can't tell you how much it meant to be brought into someone else's home and treated like family, to be treated like I belonged sometimes when I felt like I didn't. All through high school Joe has cared to see me graduate. All through the dark times, Joe was just as eager to see me get out of that too. What more can you want from a mentor? So often we consider it someone that guides someone through their life with advice but a mentor to me is someone that guides someone through those moments that threaten to break us because those moments are a test of will and sometimes we need a helping hand. Thank you, Joe, because sometimes when your life feels like a burning building you need a hero. You need someone to put out the flames. Joe can do that with a smile and a few kind words. He's my best friend and who knows maybe someday he'll wear an actual cape. He's done enough to earn one. So give a round of applause to Joe because I only have two hands and can't do it enough.