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Conversations with a Mentor: How One Woman Used an Internship to Intersect Faith and Work

Her voice is clear and direct; the laser-sharp focus that has propelled her over the years shows through as she recites the story of how Foster Closet came to be. How the Lord shaped and directed her journey. A series of obedient yeses to each new stepping stone He placed on her heart. 

FC Shopping Center
Mercedes Benze volunteers organizing the car seat section

Just over a decade ago, with two preteens of her own, the family receives their first foster child, and then their second. For the next several years they say yes again and again, opening both home and hearts.

Tammy enjoying an evening with her family

With each new child she scrambles to meet basic needs. Clothing. Toothbrush. Crib. Changing table. Formula. Shoes. Scramble, scramble, scramble. There has got to be a better way, she says to herself. 

In the thick of this act of obedience, she finds herself grieving a loss she isn’t prepared for. Saying goodbye. Pouring her heart and soul out for the first two children in her care, the separation and loss is almost unbearable. Still, she knows she had been called by God to foster. 

FC Building and Delivery Truck - delivering to teens aging out of foster care

With that laser-sharp focus she pauses, expounding on her last statement. “Foster care is a calling,” she points out, “not a solution. You don’t start fostering because you want another baby.” She pauses to choose her next words. “Rather than letting my grief fester, I had to take my grief and make something good out of it.”

As time moves on she begins to realize a great need for a support system in her area. Hers was not the only foster family scrambling for resources with each new placement. Asking around, she is confronted with the idea that she should develop the very resources she’s looking for. From that seed of an idea Foster Closet is born. Another step in a long pattern of obedience to the gentle prodding of the Lord. 

A decade later, Foster Closet is thriving, and the community of Jacksonville, FL is blessed because of it.

Christmas party celebrating foster families

As she tells her story I sense a second calling laid so thick on her heart that she can’t help but walk in it - the call to mentor. My guess is she’s been mentoring for years, though maybe not always in structured environments such as CoPassion. Still, the call to Go and Make seeps out of her stories. 

Tammy has been connected with CoPassion in 2019. She was needing some help with Foster Closet, and, true to character, wanted to make it meaningful. Mentoring an intern would check both of those boxes for her.

 

Tammy and Tabitha 

Through CoPassion she met Tabitha. “We connected right away,” she explains. “Tabitha had such a heart for the mission of Foster Closet, and jumped right in on everything I handed her.” 

As Tabitha poured herself into her internship, Tammy was quietly pouring into Tabitha. “When I’m working with an intern, I’m not just focused on their academic success,” she explains. “I want them to grow and succeed in life. It is just as important to me that they grow spiritually as it is that they gain the practical skills they will need in their career.” She describes their time together, and the joy she felt watching Tabitha grow, caring for the Foster Closet families just as she had seen Tammy do. 

 

Tammy and Tabitha 

I ask her about the difficult parts of hiring an intern. “Finding the right candidates,” she says without blinking. “I have a lot of interest, but it’s harder to get students to commit to an internship after our initial meeting, especially when their major doesn’t line up with my line of business.” 

I can tell that hurdle won’t deter her from seeking new interns. She mentions off the cuff that she needs to hire another intern, maybe more. Her passion as strong as ever. Another simple yes to the call of God on her life. Another act of simple obedience. 

 

Volunteers at the Annual FC Open House

CoPassion is looking for mentors like Tammy. Eighty percent of college students in public schools stop attending church within their first year. The voices of pastors, small group leaders and like-minded, Christ-following college students suddenly absent. 

Faced with such daunting statistics, CoPassion is dedicated to providing life-giving spiritual guidance to the next generation through the most basic, practical tool we have as a society today. 

The workforce. 

You may be feeling the call of God on your heart, just like Tammy, just like thousands of other Christians. Becoming a mentor is an undertaking, for sure. That’s why we got started. We’re here to help. 

If you have found yourself unsure of how to get the right intern, mentor well, or even structure their time effectively, check out our fast and easy E-course How to Hire an Intern with Ease.

It has tips and advice on: 

  • How to prepare 
  • How to bring your team on board
  • Advice on structuring an intern’s daily tasks and responsibilities
  • How to write an internship-specific job posting and where to post 
  • A sampling of interview questions for potential candidates
  • Advice on writing a job description for an internship
  • Onboarding tips to help you connect with your intern

This five-minute E-course is a game changer that you need in your toolbelt to maximize the experience for you and your intern - and the best part is, it’s FREE!

Click the link to access the E-course How to Hire an Intern with Ease!

 

About the Author

Becky Nance is a mom of three girls, and wife to a worship pastor in central Iowa. She holds a M.A. in Ministry from Wesley Seminary with a concentration in Spiritual Formation. Becky spends much of her time mentoring young women, nurturing her babies, and crafting words to help shape the way we think about God.