When they were first paired together in the TriVillage Mentor League's Mentoring & More program, Josie Martina and Nick Hayes did not immediately click.
"It took a while," Martina said. "He was very shy and it was hard to get to know each other at first. Finally, he began to talk to me more, and now we have a great time together."
The pair were honored Jan. 21 as one of 12 outstanding mentor/mentee matches by the Mentoring Center of Central Ohio. The Mentoring Celebration held its annual celebration of National Mentoring Month that day at the Ohio Statehouse atrium.
Martina, a Grandview Heights High School senior, and Nick, a third-grader at Stevenson Elementary School, have been matched together for three years in the Mentoring & More program.
The TriVillage Mentor League, Mentoring & More sponsor, nominated Martina and Nick for the award.
"One of the criteria for the honor is recognizing long-term mentoring relationships," said Elisabeth Dilz, TriVillage Mentor League director.
"It's unusual in our program to have such a long-lasting mentor/mentee relationship," she said. "Usually students are only paired for one year. Josie and Nick have been able to develop a really nice, special relationship and we wanted to see it recognized citywide."
"It was really surprising to find out we were receiving the award," Martina said. "I didn't even know it existed."
Martina said her interest in being a mentor grew out of her older siblings' participation in Mentoring & More.
"I learned about the program through them and it was something that really interested me," she said. "I saw the kind of positive impact older students can have on younger ones."
Martina and Nick meet each Monday afternoon and participate together in a variety of activities, including playing basketball, drawing or making crafts.
"We have a lot of fun," Nick said. "She's nice."
"It's nice to be someone he can look up to," Martina said. "I try to be a good influence on him and help him make the right decisions."
With her graduation looming, this will be the last year Martina and Nick will be matched in Mentoring & More.
"It's kind of sad to know it will be over soon," Martina said. "I think we will stay in contact, though."
While she still is deciding whether to attend Ohio State University or the University of Cincinnati next year, Martina said she believes she will pursue a nursing career.
"I want to do something that involves working with children," she said.