DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – It is said, if you change the life of one person, you can change the community.
“You’ll know if you made a difference,” Jane McEwen said. Through her decades of service, Jane has brought change to more than just the communities she’s lived in. She’s likely changed the world. “My reason for existing is to help others,” Jane said.
For Jane, that help means being a mentor and training others to be mentors as well. “Mentoring is about connection,” Jane said. “About opportunity. A reason to bond with someone because you see something in them that you’d like to have in yourself.”
That bond was pivotal for Jane when she became a mother long before she ever planned. “One of the things that kind of drew me to that was when I became a teen mom,” Jane said. She was just 13 when she says she was victimized by teenage pregnancy. From that moment on, Jane had to grow up quickly.
“I was in the eighth grade and I was a mom,” Jane said. “And I remember the girls saying, ‘We can’t play with you anymore because our mom says that you have a child.'” Her whole world changed. Despite that hurt, she wasn’t alone. Her parents, church, and community supported and mentored Jane through the most difficult time of her life.
“It was that experience that prepared me for service,” Jane said. I didn’t know that because my family, my mom and dad stepped up and they supported me.” And that changed everything.
“As King David said, ‘I”m glad I was afflicted because I learned thy statutes,'” Jane said. “And that’s what happened to me. I really learned service more through that experience.”
Jane used that experience to drive her success in life, from hosting a radio show to business. “It challenged me to prove people wrong,” Jane said. “A lot of people said cruel and mean things that I’ll never forget, but I internalized that. As Dr. King said, it fueled me.”
But her life’s work is making sure young people have the opportunity to have a mentor like she did. “To have a mentor is to have a friend,” Jane said. “To have a mentor is to have a coach. To have a mentor is to have someone who listens.”
Jane has started and overseen teen pregnancy support programs, the Miami Valley’s Americorps program, and now… she’s training others to mentor through the Mentoring Collaborative. “It’s priceless,” Jane said. “There are so many that I run into that will say– they call me Miss Jane– ‘Miss Jane, I’m doing this. Can you come to my graduation? Can you come to my wedding? My shower?’ It’s amazing to see hundreds of people of all ages. Not just young people.”
Her husband says it’s all genuine Jane. “I see the work that she does,” James McEwen said. “I see how she affects other people. How she continues to feel attached.”
A remarkable woman, forever changed by the lives she’s touched. “A lot of time people think you’re changing others as you mentor,” Jane said. “But it’s the mentee that changes the mentor. And that’s what happened to me.”
There’s no doubt about it, Jane McEwen is changing individuals, her community, and her world. “It’s a domino effect,” Jane said. “When you give, you get back. It’s through giving that you receive. It’s giving without expecting.”
If you’d like to learn how to become a mentor or to start your own mentoring program in an organization you’re involved with, you can reach out to Jane at the Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County, through Sinclair Community College.