TeamMates of the Month: Arrya and Marlene

Promises Kept 

When Arrya met her mentor, Marlene, in fourth grade, the first thing that crossed her mind was, “I was hoping she would be taller.”

Marlene laughs, “When we met, she was already taller than me!” 

But that isn’t what Marlene remembers most about meeting Arrya.

“I just remember how sweet and polite and easy she was to talk to from the get go. We didn’t have that awkward period of time.”

Arrya credits Marlene. 

“My starting thing was her happy-go-lucky personality. Her smile, her laugh, makes me happy.”

Busy hands made connection easier.

“We did a whole bunch of different things,”  Arrya said. “We would color, play board games, and we did this little craft thing with hearts (a service project TeamMates co-sponsors with Cancer Partners of Nebraska).

“I’ve told Marlene a whole bunch of stuff about my past and she was open-eared about it and talked to me about different scenarios and that helped me.”

Creating a safe space is one of the most important things a mentor can do.

“I think I told Arrya, ‘This is a safe place. You can say whatever you want and I’m not going to go repeat it to people and no judgment.’”

Arrya has carried plenty on her tall shoulders.

“When I was younger, being a kid wasn’t really a thing. I kinda had to be my own adult for myself because I wasn’t really getting that [from anyone else].”

The way Arrya handles so much responsibility surprised Marlene.

“Her ability to be resilient in tough situations and to juggle all these family dynamics and still face the day and be a good person has impressed me.” 

As high school approached, Arrya was bracing for the end of the friendship.

“I’m used to people coming in and out of my life a lot. I was so surprised and so happy when Marlene said she was gonna be with me in high school.”

Marlene laughs, “I told her, ‘Of course! You’re stuck with me!’ She has wonderful goals for her life and I want to help her get there.”

Arrya depends on Marlene for her listening ear and that is a gift for them both.

“As a talker and as an extrovert, it’s very good for me to really practice on my listening and doing less talking,”  Marlene said.

Arrya adds, “No one else that I know is the same way. Not my friends. Not anyone else in my family. But this one is.”

She nods at Marlene.

You can learn more about Lincoln TeamMates at



Published: December 5, 2023, Updated: December 5, 2023

Arrya and Marlene are December's TeamMates of the month.